Knesset Members from Many Parties Tour Mountain with ICHH Leaders

Jerusalem, Israel - June 5, 2o23 - The security and development of the 3000-year-old cemetery on Har Hazeisim has emerged as a leading focus of the current Israeli government in dramatically stepping up efforts to preserve and secure the historic mountain. The stepped-up initiatives by various branches of the Israeli government are in large measure due to the efforts of the International Committee on Har Hazeisim (ICHH). Late last month, leading members of the renewed Knesset Caucus on Har Hazeisim, headed by its chairman MK Rabbi Erez Malul (Shas) toured Har Hazeisim to observe firsthand the improved security on the mountain.

In addition to Rabbi Malul, the delegation included Deputy Minister Rabbi Moshe Abutbul (Shas), MK Rabbi Moshe Shimon Roth (UTJ), MK Rabbi Eliyahu Baruchi (UTJ), MK Rabbi Yoni Mashriki (Shas), MK Etty Atiya (Likud), and MK Limor Sorin Har Melech (Otzma Yehudit). Joining the tour were leading officers of the Israeli police, representatives of the Ministry of Housing, responsible for security on Har Hazeisim, and members of the board of the ICHH in the US and Canada as well as the Israeli board. The ICHH delegation included Chavi and Paul Jacobs (Canada), Rachel and Benny Brenig (UK), and David Urbach (USA). Israeli board members included Jeff Daube, Shlomo Wassertheil, Mush Meyer and Shuli Mualem. Leading the tours was Moshe Bruce, the executive director of the ICHH in Israel.

“Members of the Caucus from several parties were able to see firsthand the accomplishments of the ICHH in significantly upgrading security in the cemetery,” said Mr. Bruce. “ They were impressed by the large number of visitors visiting the graves of our saintly leaders and loved ones, a dramatic change from just a few years,” he said. The group also toured the site of the planned Visitor Education Center to be built in the coming months in a joint project between the Government of Israel, the Municipality of Jerusalem and the ICHH.

“We are extremely impressed by the government’s increased focus on Har Hazeisim, which was so neglected for decades,” said Menachem Lubinsky, founding co-chairman of the ICHH. He said that the recently passed Israeli budget includes significant funding for the security and development of the holy site, which fir the first time was an integral part of the coalition agreements. His brother Avraham Lubinsky, founding chairman of the ICHH,  thanked Ministers Yitzchak Goldknopf (Housing) and Meir Porush (Jerusalem Affairs) for their role in the heightened interest and support for Har Hazeisim.

ICHH leaders met with visiting Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion in New York as well as Minister of Labor Rabbi Yoav ben Zur. The Mayor enthusiastically greeted the historic initiative to build a magnificent Visitor Education Center opposite the Har Habayis. Rabbi  ben Zur was previously the chairman of the Knesset Caucus on Har Hazeisim when 76 members from all parties joined, the largest caucus since the founding of the Knesset.

The ICHH was established in 2010 by two brothers, Menachem and Abe Lubinsky of New York, who organized the committee following a devastating report of vandalism and destruction by the Israeli Comptroller, the late Micha Lindenstrauss. The committee subsequently arranged for the installation of a network of 176 surveillance cameras, an underground monitoring station, a police substation, increased Border Patrol units, gating, sanitation services and upgrades to the infrastructure. The improved security has resulted in a sharp decrease in vandalism and a dramatic increase in visitors from less than 200 a day to as many as 2000, with tens of thousands visiting on the yahrzeits of important sages buried there.