Thursday, December 29, 2005

Through the maze to Kever Rachel

It did seem like a maze, the new entrance to Kever Rachel, especially since it was our first time, since that part of the "separation barrier" was completed.

First of all, if you're not aware, Beit Lechem, Kever Rachel, aka Rachel's Tomb, is located just next to Jerusalem. It's like walking between Great Neck and Little Neck, NY. I used to do that to save money. Instead of traveling home on the LIRR, I'd take the subway to Flushing and then the Northern Blvd. bus to the last stop. Then I'd walk a couple of miles to my parents' house. Kever Rachel is closer than that to Jerusalem.

Since the Arabs increased the terror attacks a few years ago, Israel decided to treat the short road as a war zone. It's really weird, since Arabs and non-Jewish tourists walk freely, unencumbered by armor or any other defensive apparatus. We good Jews must go to our "mother's" tomb in a bullet-proof bus. Then we're locked in the imposing thick cement protective structure until our transport returns. Oh, yes, I forgot to mention that the bus must have a soldier dressed in bullet-proof vest and heavily armed. Yep, that's how it is.

For the past few years, ever since it was deemed to dangerous to spontaneously drop by, the women of Shiloh have hired a bus to take us once a month, just before Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of the Jewish month. I go whenever my work schedule allows. Since it's Chanukah vacation, I was able to go this month.

Over the past year or less, we have seen the "wall" rise blocking access even more. It's not a straight wall; it curves, making it more difficult to find the actual gate. We thought we had followed the signs correctly but then found ourselves next to a simple locked gate. Nobody was there, no soldiers, nothing. So the bus made complicated moves to reverse and eventually find another gate, which was manned. There we were told that our first guess was right, and they claimed that there should have had been instructions. Or we should go further out towards Jerusalem, and a soldier would find us. That's what we did.

As annoying as these arrangements, regulations, are, it's far superior to the situation at "her son's tomb," Kever Yosef in Shechem, which Israel allowed the Arabs to destroy.

This month the bus was filled with 12 year old girls celebrating the Bat Mitzvah of one of them. The family, from Maale Levona, had decided to make the visit to Kever Rachel the "class Bat Mitzvah party" for their daughter. It really was a wonderful idea. The girls spent a few minutes at the tomb and then had a "party." The family brought lunch, and the girls ate on the bus back home. Mazal tov!

It's also possible to take public transportation to and from. There is a special Egged bus.


Anonymous said...

What if a few hundred proud Jews, able to defend themselves, decided to march that short distance to show we weren't afraid?

Batya said...

good idea