Nir Seminary, Kiryat Arba [Photo Credit: יונתן ליברמן]
Kiryat Arba is located on a secure hilltop amidst the Judean Hills, approximately thirty kilometers southwest of Jerusalem and just a few kilometers from Hebron. Due to its close proximity to the holy city of Hebron, Kiryat Arba is considered a sister city to Hebron. The history of modern day Kiryat Arba began in 1968, when a group of Jews led by Rabbi Moshe Levinger and Rabbi Eliezer Waldman founded the city on the eastern outskirts of Hebron. Building began on an abandoned military base in 1970, and residents moved in 1971.
Kiryat Arba and Hebron has been a flash-point for Arab terror directed at Jews. The hatred and violence that is part and parcel of the character that defines Arab residents of Hebron predates the existence of the modern Jewish State of Israel. In the year 1929, in a horrific event that would become a precursor of modern day Arab terror, Arab residents of Hebron massacred some 70 Jews living in the area. Jewish homes were pillaged and synagogues were ransacked.
More recently, on June 30, 2016, 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel, a resident of Kiryat Arba, was brutally stabbed to death by a 17-year-old Arab. The Arab was a high school dropout from a neighboring village, who jumped fence to enter Kiryat Arba, then broke into the young girls home to fatally stab her, as she was sleeping in her room. Hallel was an American citizen with dual citizenship.
Despite the danger that comes with living close to Hebron, the city of Kiryat Arba is a flourishing and growing community. Every year, thousands of Israeli’s from around the country come to Kiryat Arba for a weekend that is known to Israeli’s as Shabbat Chevron (or the Hebron Sabbath). Over this weekend, religious Jews read from the portion of the Torah that discusses Abraham’s purchase of the Cave of the Patriarchs (in Hebron) for his wife Sarah. Thousands of Jews walk to the Cave of Patriarchs to pray there and to pay homage to the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs that are buried there.
Kiryat Arba is located within the jurisdiction of the Mount Hebron Regional Council, but is considered an independent town. In 2015 it had a population of 7,108. The city is located in the portion of Israel that was designated for the tribe of Judah.