President Reuven Rivlin and the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi David Lau, were on hand Monday as the Jewish community of Hevron inaugurated a new visitor center as part of its Jewish Heritage Museum.
The visitor center will feature a film documenting the history of Jews in Hevron from Biblical times to the present day, as well as original photographs and artistic images.
The goal of audio-visual presentation, which is available in English and other languages if requested, is to enhance the experience of viewing and visiting the museum.
"Every Israeli tourist has to come visit the new site, and those who don't will miss out," said officials of the Jewish community of Hevron, who are also the initiators of the project which was funded by donations.
"This place is one you cannot give up on on any tour of Judea. It is well worth it to visit here especially."
Director of the Hevron community, Uri Karzan, said of the exhibit: "We have invested in this exhibit our best efforts and the best experts. We believe that it will upgrade tourism in the Hevron region and connect diverse audiences. That is our mission now and for the future."
The community's spokesman, Noam Arnon, echoed Karzan's words, praising the "special and exciting" museum and noting that, "We believe the spirit of Hevron is relevant for all time, and it gives meaning to Israelis of all ages and from all walks of life."
President Reuven Rivlin spoke at the ceremony noting that while some may travel to Krakow (in Poland) or other cities abroad to find their roots, it is unnecessary for him. "I will come to Hevron," he said.
"When the people of Israel went on a similar journey to find their roots, they met them in Hevron. There is no way to go back to the path carved by our people than to travel to Hevron," Rivlin said, before listing the many times the city was mentioned in the Old Testament.
"Until the massacre in 1929, which included murder, destruction and devastation, this city served as one of the four holy cities in Israel in which there was a continuous Jewish settlement."
"This museum is historic and tells the story of thousands of years – our roots are deeply planted in the rocky terrain of Hevron," Rivlin said passionately.
"For me that is not a cynical or political statement, but a true and basic one, as the Jewish settlement in Hevron is a story about the history of a nation – the good times and the hard times shared together."
"Even those who are deeply divided about the settlement in Hevron cannot and should not deny the affinity of the people of Israel with Hevron," Rivlin stressed.
Rabbi David Lau emphasized during the ceremony that "it is a privilege to dedicate the museum that displays the paths our ancestors took. Hevron is where our father and mothers established the Jewish people."