On Friday, February 24, I had the honor of guiding a distinguished group on a tour of the Mount of Olives cemetery in eastern Jerusalem. The group included two US congressmen – Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and Rabbis Abraham and Menachem Lubinsky, who have spearheaded the International Committee for the Preservation of the Mount of Olives.
I live near the cemetery in a Jewish enclave on the Mount of Olives in the mostly Arab neighborhood of Ras El Amud, across the valley from the Old City.
As we toured the ancient graveyard, I pointed out the layers of Jewish history before us. The Mount of Olives is the oldest existing Jewish cemetery, with 150,000 graves spanning 3,000 years. The biblical prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi lie alongside modern day heroes like Henrietta Szold, the founder of Hadassah, Eliezer Ben Yehuda, who resurrected the modern Hebrew language, and Rabbi Shlomo Goren, chief rabbi of the IDF during the liberation of the Old City of Jerusalem and Hebron in the Six-Day War. More