“The improved security on Har HaZeisim cannot be just a passing phase only to return to an era of chaos and destruction,” was the essence of a resolution at a conference of the International Committee for Har HaZeisim on March 3 at Congregation Chasidei Gur on Ocean Avenue.
Avrohom Lubinsky, chairman of the ICHH, reported on his urgent mission to Israel. “With 175 surveillance cameras, gating, and a police presence, violence and grave destruction have been virtually eliminated, but we know that without our constant vigilance, the situation could turn on a dime.”
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents, warned that Arab encroachment continues even in the area of the Har HaBayis, where there have been attempts to build a new mosque and other moves by the Waqf. “Har HaZeisim stands in the way of Arab expansion with nearly 100,000 illegally built homes all the way to the gates of Yerushalayim.” Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America, said that we must prevent Har HaZeisim from returning to being the “national shame” of Klal Yisrael as it was just a few years ago.
The Conference agreed to push for a further upgrade in security, including regular communications with police officials, increased deployment of the Border Police, additional gating, and the construction of a new Educational Center, a joint project of the municipal and national governments and the ICHH.
“The construction of the Educational Center is the long-term insurance policy on the safety and security of Har HaZeisim,” said Lubinsky. A key reason for the importance of the project is that the center will include a fully equipped permanent police station.
Founded in 2010, the ICHH with branches in New York, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, Toronto, London, and Amsterdam, has taken the lead in restoring security to Har HaZeisim with a network of surveillance cameras, new lighting, a permanent police station, new gating, and major improvements to the infrastructure of the holy cemetery.
The restored security has encouraged more than 2,000 people to visit daily, as compared to fewer than 200 in 2016. In addition, tens of thousands have visited the kevarim of many of the saintly figures buried on Har HaZeisim such as the Admorim of Gur, the Ohr HaChaim, the Bartenura, the Rashash Rebbes of Zhvil, and hundreds of other tzaddikim from throughout the ages.