Education

Touring Jerusalem with RHR’s Jezreel Valley College Beit Midrash students

0 Comments 07 May 2017

On Tuesday April 18 2017 participants of RHR’s human rights Beit Midrash program at Jezreel Valley College toured Jerusalem and learned about human rights on both sides of the wall.

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By Rabbi Nava Hefetz

This was the third tour the program, headed by Rabbi Kobi Weiss, has participated in this year. Previously we visited Rabbis for Human Right’s Socio-Economic Rights Center in Hadera where Rabbis Kobi Weiss and Sigal Asher hosted us, followed by a tour of south Tel Aviv which I led. In our most recent tour to Jerusalem, we learned how the route of the separation wall in the city violates human rights, and studied the character of the city through the lens of religious sanctity, exploring how this influences modern politics.

We first received an in-depth historical survey of the area paired with detailed maps. We examined the changes that have taken place in the city since 1948 until today. What were the boundaries of the city, how does this affect the residents on both sides of the Green Line, and finally: What is Jerusalem? Is there a congruence between the boundaries of holiness and the boundaries of bureaucracy? Does not the “human” in “human rights” make human rights sacred?

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The area around Rachel’s Tomb raises the question of what is holy. Who is excluded from the tomb and why?

 

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One of the Muslim participants in the program purchased an embroidered tapestry with the blessing of the home. It is unfortunate that “peace” in Arabic was not included.

In fact, nowhere in the Jewish quarter were there any inscriptions or engravings in Arabic.

We continued our tour along the dividing line between the Jewish and Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem (“the seam”), witnessing the gap in investment in infrastructure between the two— except for when we passed by Jewish settlements.

We stopped at the separation barrier blocking the Jericho road. We discussed its effect on the residents living on both sides of the wall and on the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, where the individual is always forgotten.

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We visited the Old City of Jerusalem, the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, and Mount Zion, and we discussed the historical and architectural tension between the three religions in competition for the “holy core” of the city. This dramatic competition between stones and concrete continues year after year, covering with dust the human heart and image.

Thank you to Rabbi Nava Hefetz for organising this special tour and sharing her thoughts.

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