IDF soldiers, officials of the Shomron Regional Council, and volunteers all labored overnight Wednesday to clean up and spruce up Kever Yosef in Shechem, in advance of what is usually the biggest day of the year for visitors to the site. Among those participating in the effort were Shomron Brigade Commander Gilad Amit, top IDF officer Elitzur Trebelesi and Shomron Regional Council head Yossi Dagan.
The 41st night of the Omer – termed the night of Yesod Shebayesod in Kabbalistic tradition, and identified with Yosef Hatzaddik – has in recent years become the biggest draw for visitors to Kever Yosef, located in Shechem. Last year, over 3,000 people came to the site, and officials worked throughout the night Wednesday in order to ensure that the site is ready for visitors who are set to arrive this year for the event.
Arabs have vandalized and set fire to Kever Yosef numerous times since the signing of the Oslo Accords, most notably in 2000, 2003, 2008, and 2014. Between 2003 and 2009, the site remained desolate, until Israel and the PA reached an accord on refurbishing the site in 2010.
Currently, Jews are allowed to visit Kever Yosef once a month – usually on Erev Rosh Chodesh or during chagim – to daven. IDF soldiers were on hand in large numbers to ensure the safety of workers, and no security incidents were reported. Soldiers will remain deployed at the site in greater numbers than usual until next week, to ensure that the work done Wednesday will not be ruined by further Arab desecration.
“It’s a wonderful feeling, knowing that we can labor on behalf of the Jewish people to refurbish a site that thousands have come to, generation after generation,” said Dagan. “Unfortunately the Palestinian Authority makes it difficult – to say the least – for us to ensure the safety of this site. As residents of the area, it is our job to take care of the kever on behalf of all the Jewish people. I am happy that the IDF was able to assist in this effort, which is a great encouragement for Jewish residents of the region.”