Thousands of Jews from all over the world are expected to participate in a historic day of events on the top of Har Hazeisim on Israel’s 2nd day of Chol Hamoed (April 25th). The event is sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and Sport, headed by Minister Miri Regev, the Jerusalem Development Authority and the International Committee for the Preservation of Har Hazeisim (ICPHH). The day of events will begin at 10 a.m. in the plaza in front of the Seven Arches Hotel (formerly the Intercontinental Hotel) with greetings from Mayor Nir Barkat, Minister Miri Regev and Rabbi Pesach Lerner, a member of the ICPHH Executive Committee.
The day will be divided into several parts beginning with a first-rate musical program, including the Pirchei of Yerushalayim Choir, led by Chanan Avital, Klezmer bands, and such notable performers as Edan Emdi, Yishai Lapidus, Yishai Ribo and Mati Shriki and Choir. Organizers say that the simchas Yom Tov on Har Hazeisim is fitting for a holy site where Jews made “aliyas haregel” and bought korbonos in the stalls on the mountain for service across the street on the “mizbeyach” of the Bais Hamikdash. In fact, one of the highlights of the day will be organized tours with visits to the exact location of the parah ha’adumah and where the kohanim prepared themselves for the avoda.
Police officials announced that there would be a heavy police presence assuring the safety of the throngs expected at the event. All vehicular traffic in the immediate vicinity of Har Hazeisim will be barred. Ample parking will be available on Har Hatzofim where shuttle busses will take visitors to and from Har Hazeisim.
“The Chol Hamoed event will be a demonstration of an unprecedented revival for a holy site that in recent years fell victim to vandalism, abuse, and desecration,” said Avrohom Lubinsky, chairman of the ICPHH. He noted that when the Committee began its efforts six years ago, “we could only dream of such an event.” Thanks to the Committee, the historic 3000-year old cemetery has been relatively safe since early September. More than 136 surveillance cameras were installed. A police substation has been functioning since 2013 and a garrison of the border police guard against vandalism. In addition to maintaining a watchful eye over the security situation, the ICPHH is planning many additional projects including the restoration of 23,000 graves destroyed during the Jordanian occupation (1948-1967), a new wall/gate in the Eastern sector of the cemetery and the construction of a Visitor’s Center.
Mr. Lubinsky praised Minister Regev for her vision and bold initiative to bring Har Hazeisim to life this Pesach. He also thanked Mayor Barkat for his ongoing support as well as Minister of Internal Security Gilad Erdan for going the extra mile to assure that the historicmountain is secure.