“It was painful to see what those who are buried here have been through,” says Rabbi Dovid Kirshenbaum as he walks through a plot in the Har HaZeisim cemetery of Jerusalem.
During the Six Day War, Jordanians desecrated the plot where Kirshenbaum is standing, digging up bodies, smashing gravestones, and paving a road over part of it. Arab hoodlums have continued to defile the graves to this day. Over 300 people were buried in the plot between 1930 and 1948, including some famous rabbanim.
Three years ago, an initiative began under the guidance of organization Agudas Achim, to return honor to the disrespected graves. Volunteers work to replace headstones, match up the stones to the locations of the proper bodies, and clean up the general disarray.
The volunteers are under a tremendous amount of pressure: Considering the significance of the mitzvah of chesed shel emes, and the need to bury a Jewish body properly, each passing day is a heinous disrespect to the men, women & children whose bodies have been so despicably defiled. Their work, however, has hit a roadblock: they require more donations in order to rebuild the 150 remaining graves.
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz had the following to say: “Preserving the honor and holiness of those who are buried in Har HaZeisim and repairing the headstones which were destroyed by the Arabs is a great and important mitzvah, it is a Kiddush Hashem as the nations of the world see that we respect our past and our elders.
I give my fervent blessing to all those who help and support this holy work, as they are partners to a great mitzvah. May they be blessed from the Source of all blessing with health and נהורא מעליא and may all their wishes be fulfilled for the good.”
This cause is particularly relevant to the month of Av, a time when we reflect upon the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of our enemies. Each year at this time the Jewish People pray for the opportunity to rebuild Jerusalem – Agudas Achim’s fund presents a rare opportunity to do just that.