By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency / Jewish News Agency
Jerusalem, Israel — November 29, 2021 … Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett lit the first Chanukah candle at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, with Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz and Western Wall Heritage Foundation Mordechai (Soli) Eliav in attendance.
Before the lighting, Prime Minister Bennett toured The Great Bridge Route, which has just been opened to the public, and which in the time of the Second Temple led pilgrims to inside the Temple. During the tour, the Bennett visited the rooms and halls from that period and observed the ancient finds that served the people of that time.
President Isaac Herzog toured the Cave of the Patriarchs and lit the first Chanukah candle there. Hebron Jewish community head Rabbi Hillel Horowitz, Kiryat Arba local council leader Eliyahu Liebman, rabbis, IDF and Israel Police commanders, local residents, and yeshiva and ulpana students also participated in the candle lighting.
“We must remember that we are not the only ones whose roots branch out from this tomb,” said President Isaac Herzog. “Today, of all days; here, of all places, in this site sacred to all Children of Abraham – we must continue to dream about peace between all religions and faiths in his land, and to denounce all forms of hatred and violence.”
“My connection and my family’s connection to this place stretches back many generations. Forty-five years ago to the month, Israel’s ambassador at the United Nations, my late father Chaim Herzog, later the Sixth President of the State of Israel, recited the verses from the “Chayyei Sarah” Torah portion that we read in synagogues just a few weeks ago on Shabbat. The verses in which the Torah presents, quite atypically, the story of the purchase of the field of Machpelah in intricate detail. And thus, United Nations ambassadors sat there and heard the whole story.”
“They heard how our Patriarch Abraham purchased the field from Ephron the Hittite at full price. In a break from common practice, it was agreed that these verses would be circulated as an official document of the United Nations—a document that proves and exemplifies our connection to the Cave of the Patriarchs. And thus, the title deed for this holy site became an official document of the United Nations Security Council.”
Herzog concluded: “When we assemble around the wonderful light of the Chanukah candles, it is important that we respect the Israeli principle of mamlakhtiyut and its tenets, listen more to the other, respect difference, and build one bridge after another in order to protect our togetherness, of course without prejudice to any individual or community, their opinions and faiths. We will not agree on everything, but we will always remember that “we are all sons of one man” (Genesis 42:11). That we all share deep roots branching out of this tomb.”