Tried and tested Hebron tour with Mount of Olives, Gush Etzion and Rachel’s Tomb
An ideal experience for a multi generational family from Israel and abroad gather the Jerusalem to celebrate a Bar Mitzvah.
We started out the day with the older folks who wanted to take the opportunity to visit family graves on the Mount of Olives. Best to prepare in advance by collecting as much information as possible to pin point the location of the graves and access path before the visit.
The Mount of Olives is considered to be one of the most important Jewish cemeteries because of its proximity to the Temple Mount and traditions regarding scenarios at the end of days. This cemetery has been in use from Biblical times and is active to this day as a premiere burial site.
Enjoy the amazing panoramic view of the Old City of Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and see many parts of the city from the south east, south, west and north east. View the City of David archeological park and Silwan neighborhood below in the valley and Armon haNatziv in the south, Mount Zion and even the King David hotel and so much more.
To briefly touch on the complex geopolitical situation here. The Mount of Olives and the surrounding neighborhoods including all of the walled Old City are part of the areas also known as East Jerusalem, referring to parts of the city that were controlled by Jordan from 1948 to 1967. Typically most of these neighborhoods have a substantially larger Arab population and smaller Jewish enclaves.
Following the very special visit to family graves on the Mount of Olives, we picked up the younger generation of the group and proceeded to Hebron to visit Maarat HaMachpela. The bible tells the story of Avraham the father of the Hebrew nation who purchased the plot of land and the burial cave for his wife Sara. According to tradition this is the burial site of three sets of patriarchs of Israel, Abraham and Sara, Itzhak and Rivka, Yakkov and Leah.
Hebron is a city divided between Israel and the Palestinian Authority with most parts unwelcoming Israelis and Jews. The Cave of the Machpelah and all of the Jewish neighborhoods and sites are in areas under Israeli control with security provided by the Israeli army and police.
From Hebron we headed back north on road 60 the Path of the Patriarchs for a wonderful dairy and fish lunch and wine tasting at the Gush Etzion winery. We met with Asaf, the son of the founder of the winery and manager of the winery, who shared with us the story of the vineyards and the wines of Gush Etzion.
After lunch our bus took us to Deer-Land Ranch where we met another Asaf who is the owner and operator of the Gush Educational ATV ride, an hour and a half tour on ATVs through the forest, the vineyards and the ancient Roman road and milestone number 10 that lead to Jerusalem. On the way we saw a Mikva ritual bath carved in the bedrock dating back two thousand years to the second Temple period when pilgrims used this road to access Jerusalem during the festivals.
Not done yet, on the way back to Jerusalem we stopped to pray at Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem. The site was once on the main road south from Jerusalem to Hebron just north of Efrat. Now the road ends here in the massive secured area surrounded by the high cement walls of the security barrier between the Israeli side and the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority in Bethlehem.
The tour ended with dropping off the family happy and tired at their hotel in Jerusalem.
David Ha’ivri is a licenced Israel Tour Guide. Read more about his tours here