For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
by Hillel Fendel Sivan 30, 5769, Israelnationalnews.com
The army called off a planned Rosh Chodesh prayer service in Jericho – for security reasons. The unofficial explanation: MK Ariel didn’t ask nicely.
IDF Central Command head Gen. Gadi Shamni abruptly canceled, on Sunday, a Rosh Chodesh prayer service in Jericho planned for Monday. The prayers were to be held in the ancient “Shalom al Yisrael” (Peace unto Israel) synagogue in Jericho, a city that has been under the control of the Palestinian Authority for just over 15 years.
Gen. Shamni explained that the reason for the cancellation was “intelligence warnings of security threats.”
The unofficial explanation, however, was different. Sources in the Central Command said that it was because MK Uri Ariel, who spearheaded the drive for the prayer service, didn’t ask nicely. Specifically, Ariel did not take the “accepted channels” to request the permit.
MK Ariel was surprised to hear of both the cancellation and the unofficial explanation. “This is scandalous," he said afterwards. "Many Jews were planning to pray here - local residents, and even the Chairman of the Jordan Valley Regional Council - after receiving all the necessary permits. How can the IDF link me to such a decision?”
IDF Checkpoint Removal Increases Threats If the reports of increasing security dangers are correct, local residents feel these are connected to last week’s removal of an IDF checkpoint south of Jericho. The opening of the road allows Arabs to travel freely from Jericho and local villages.
Jordan Valley Regional Council Chairman David Lachyani said, “Free Arab mobility between Jericho and the northern Dead Sea area causes great harm to the personal safety of our residents. Whoever approved this decision must take personal responsibility, because when something happens and Jewish blood is spilled, that person will have to stand up.”
Brief History, From Accidental Discovery to Denial of Jewish Rights The right to a Jewish presence at the synagogue was recognized in the Oslo Accords, but has been exercised only with great difficulty, if at all.
The synagogue was discovered beneath an Arab house after Israel liberated Jericho in the 1967 Six Day War. Dating from the Byzantine period, it was found to have an intricate mosaic floor depicting a menorah and a shofar, with the Hebrew inscription "Shalom al Yisrael," meaning "Peace unto Israel."
Initially, the Arab living in the house above the synagogue charged admission to Jews who came to pray at the site. In 1986, however, Israel turned the site into a National Park, and in the early '90s, the house above the synagogue became the study hall of the Shalom Al Yisrael yeshiva, a Torah study academy. Bi-weekly Sabbath celebrations were organized for the purpose of "reconnecting" with Jericho's ancient synagogues and Jewish communities. Visiting Jews would spend the Sabbath in a local Arab hotel.
In 1993, then-Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin agreed to insist on special status in the Oslo Accords for the Shalom al Yisrael yeshiva, similar to that enjoyed by the Joseph's Tomb Yeshiva in Shechem (Nablus). Shortly after Israel handed over control of Jericho to the Palestinian Authority, in May 1994, the Sabbath visits were outlawed by PA demand.
The Jewish students were barred from taking up residence at the site, but they still traveled to the synagogue daily. For the next seven years, groups dedicated to Jewish Jericho spent every other week sleeping in makeshift tents in Jericho's desert heat, with no refrigeration, permanent toilets or air conditioning.
The Oslo process eventually culminated in a Palestinian terror offensive – the Oslo War, beginning in September 2000 - that resulted in Israel’s complete abandonment of all Jewish sites in Jericho and Shechem and their subsequent destruction by Arab vandals. The ancient Shalom al Yisrael synagogue was one of the first casualties.
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"