The newly restored Joseph's Tomb site and headstone were inaugurated in Nablus Wednesday night after being destroyed during the second Intifada when Palestinians took control of the structure. Some 2,000 people, including Ministers Moshe Kahlon, Yuli Edelstein and Daniel Hershkowitz attended the ceremony.
"It is our duty to resume prayers, activities and ensure constant presence at Joseph's Tomb," said Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz.
Samaria Regional Council chief Gershon Mesika, Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, who serves as the Samaria regional rabbi, rabbis and other officials also took part in the event.
Hershkowitz recited a short prayer and few verses of psalms. In his speech he said, "According to the Oslo accords the Tomb belongs to the State of Israel. "
He further added, "Unfortunately, we were forced to leave it ten years ago during the intifada, but thank God, we can now return, it has been renovated and peace has returned to the area and to Nablus thanks to the IDF which controls security in the area."
Minister of Information and Diaspora Yuli Edelstein stated: "I hope that we will never have to come back here in convoys in the middle of the night and that permanent IDF presence will return to Joseph's Tomb together with regular Torah studies."
Social Affairs Minister Moshe Kahlon concluded: "We all know what happened here over the past few years and many of us prayed for this day to come, especially after our enemies mutilated and destroyed it (the tomb) in such a brutal way without showing any mercy for this holy place. But it appears the Jewish people and the land of Israel, the land of our fathers, are stronger than anything else. The proof being that we are here, and God willing, we will remain here for many many years to come."
'Fix the distortion'
Gershon Mesika thanked the IDF soldiers for protecting the huge crowd and called on the Israeli government not to make do with renovating the tomb, but to renew Israeli presence and Jewish settlement at the tomb: "There is no nation on earth that would have allowed such a deeply rooted holy and symbolic place to be disrespected like Joseph's Tomb. I call on the Israeli government to fix the distortion and make an official decision to resume the permanent Jewish settlement at Joseph's Tomb."
Ministers, Rabbi Levanon at renovated tomb (Photo: Yitzhak Elharar)
The headstone which weighs five tons was re-erected by the Mount Kabir construction company in cooperation with the One Shechem organization, the Samaria Regional Council and IDF forces.
Following the ceremony, and just before thousands of Israelis arrived at the tomb, a girl's school from Elon Moreh held a "Sidur party" for first graders– where the girls received their first prayer book.
Rabbi Levanon told participants: "We get to see some very emotional moments here. I have known this spot for 30 years, we have experienced its beauty and sadly, its destruction 10 years ago, when the dome was shattered and everything was burnt down. We thank God and all the organizations who worked to restore the tomb.
"We rejoice in Joseph's joy and hope that thanks to Joseph the righteous, his legacy of bringing the people of Israel closer together will be our legacy."
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