Over 6,000 people came to daven at Kever Yosef Thursday night in observance of the 41st night of the counting of the Omer, accompanied by security forces who fended off numerous Arab rioters who attempted to reach the mispallelim. Groups arrived by bus and were allowed entry to the site in groups of 600, and each group was able to remain for about half an hour.
The 41st night of Sefiras haOmer – 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. Officials worked intensively last week in order to ensure that the site was ready for visitors who came to pray at the site.
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 Yamim Tovim – 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.
Shomron Council head Yossi Dagan said that “we have the great honor of standing and defending one of the most important sites in the history of the Jewish people. This large group that has come here tonight, consisting of thousands from all over the world, is additional proof that the Jewish people will never forget their holy places, no matter what.”