Tomorrow, Friday is the 28th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan. It is the day when the walls of Jericho miraculously fell after being surrounded by Joshua and the Israelites for 7 days. You can read the story in the Book of Joshua here. Because of this event, the sages of the Talmud call Jericho, “The key to the Land of Israel“. (Tanchuma Ch 10)
Unfortunately today Jericho is a Palestinian city in “Area A” which means it is under complete Palestinian control. It is prohibited for any Israel citizen to enter Jericho. Nevertheless, from time to time, there are organizations which make special arrangements for Israelis to enter Jericho. It requires coordination between the Israeli army and the Palestinian security forces.
Last year in July, I had the privilege to join one of these groups together with my son Mendel (9 at the time). We were joined by Knesset member Uri Ariel. We set out early in the morning from Jerusalem and were escorted by the Israeli Army to the checkpoint of Jericho where the Israeli officers got out and coordinated the visit with the Palestinian officers. Then we were escorted through the city by both Palestinian and Israeli army vehicles.
We drove by Tel Yericho (the archaeological site of ancient Jericho) and the Na’aran Synagogue. We then arrived at our destination, the Shalom al Yisrael Synagogue. It was a bit surreal to drive deep into an area which is supposedly part of “Palestine” only to arrive at a Synagogue which is over 1,500 years old, with a big mosaic in its center which says, “Shalom al Yisrael” – “Peace upon Israel”. What was even more interesting were the road signs pointing to the “Shahwan House” which is what the Palestinians call it.
We davened Shacharit there, heard a short Torah lecture and returned back to Jerusalem. The day of the trip happened to be the 3rd of Tammuz, the Hillula of the Rebbe so you will see in some of the pictures that I am wearing my Kapote, that we Chabad Chassidim wear on holidays and special days.
Enjoy the photos: