Soon everyone will be able to enter the Cave of the Patriarchs
Perhaps you do not know that the Cave of the Patriarchs — Maarat Hamachpelah — is not accessible to all. While everyone is permitted to enter the holy site at which Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their wives Sarah, Leah and Rivka are buried, not everyone is able to. In today’s world of attending to issues of human rights and accessibility it is inconceivable that such an important historic and sacred site has remained inaccessible to the disabled, the elderly and pregnant women who are unable to manage the stairs at either entrance — the one only non-Jews are allowed to use or the one by which Jews can enter the site.
In 2003, the first request to make the site accessible was submitted to the Knesset. Architects designed an accessibility elevator and a path up from the parking level to the base of the building. But for some reason, the Israeli Knesset committee and COGAT, the Israeli civil administration for Judea-Samaria, gave in, over the years, to pressure to delay and put off final approval. If it were not for the dogged determination of B’Tsalmo CEO Shai Glick, it is highly unlikely the elevator and path would be nearing completion today.
When Glick sinks his teeth into something, he never lets go. And soon, very soon, the fruits of his labour will be realized and EVERYONE will be able to worship inside this most important spiritual site.
Here are two videos Glick recently shared. I suggest you read my English translations of Glick’s narration before viewing the videos in order to anticipate exactly what you will see.
The Accessibility Path
This is a[n ancient] street that existed at the foot of the Cave of the Patriarchs. This street was exposed as a result of the efforts to make the site accessible. They dug here and discovered the street. We can see evidence of the bustling life that went on here.
At the moment, the site in the process of being worked, and soon we will see a paved snake-shaped path that every disabled person will be able to use to get from the parking up to here — to get up here in a dignified fashion.
As we see, from here visitors can go on in the direction of the elevator at the Cave of the Patriarchs. We can see the bridge here [at the upper edge of the building in the middle of the screen at 27 seconds] and the elevator. All disabled individuals will be able to get to the Cave of the Patriarchs with dignity, a battle that took us seven years to accomplish. B’Tsalmo does not complain — we act.
I wondered why the authorities were not finding a way to keep the amazing street open for viewing at the same time as providing the accessibility path. Glick informed me that the ancient street is being covered with material that can easily be removed when the time will be right (meaning perhaps, when there will be a budget available) for making it a dual-purpose area: path as well as archaeological viewing site.
The Accessibility Elevator
The elevator to the Cave of the Patriarchs is located here. You can see the bridge and the elevator shaft. With the help of God, the accessibility path will soon be done. The elevator is already complete on the outside and soon it will be finished internally. People with disabilities will reach this point and will go up into the site: Jews, Muslims. In this way we achieve freedom of worship, freedom of movement, religious freedom — human rights for all, for Jews and for Muslims, in Judea-Samaria, in the Negev and the Galilee, in South Tel Aviv.
B’tsalmo does not complain — we act. We will continue to act on your behalf and we will notify you of the opening of the elevator.
My earlier articles on this topic are:
November 2019: Whan an elevator is not just an elevator.
Feature Image Credit: Screenshot from video taken and narrated by Shai Glick.