In the month of Adar last year, Colel Chabad and the Jerusalem Development Authority decided that it was time to renovate Colel Chabad’s section of the ancient cemetery on Har Zaytim.
During the years of Jordanian occupation, from 1948-1967, many of the headstones in this part of the cemetery were smashed or vandalized. This was mainly due to the location of this section in the center of the mountain. Some of the headstones were taken to pave a road that cut through Har Zaytim. The extent of the damage was only revealed after 1967, and it was so severe that it was impossible to recognize the individual graves.
Since then Colel Chabad has gradually cleaned up the area at great cost, making pathways and putting up fences.
About a year ago, it was decided as mentioned above to intensify these efforts. Dozens of broken headstones were replaced. The project was overseen by Rabbi Gadi Nadler, a supporter of Colel Chabad and Asher Yosef of the 770 Project management company under the direction of Rabbi Zeev Dov Slonim of downtown Jerusalem.
Apart from repairing the headstones and fixing up the graves, using ancient records and charts to identify them, concrete walls have also been erected to prevent erosion. Several approaches to the graves have been built and iron railings and staircases have been repaired. Colel Chabad intends to similarly renovate the “closed section” of Har Zaytim, which is the first plot used by the Chassidic community 125 years ago. Unfortunately, a road was built over some of the graves here after 1948. Among those buried there is Rabbi Ze’ev Dov Slonim, grandfather of the Rav of the same name mentioned above.
Another important development is improved security since the opening of a police station at the top of the mountain, as well as guards provided by professional security companies 24 hours a day.
Interestingly, several weeks ago, during the shloshim of the late Rabbi Shimon Friedman (known to all as “Shimon Hatzaddik”), the original headstone of his grandfather Rabbi Avraham Cohen, who served as a dayan on the Beis Din of the Toras Chessed, was discovered. The headstone was found dozens of meters away from the grave itself, which is close to the final resting place of the Toras Chessed. The family had put another headstone at the gravesite, but it was interesting to find the original stone.
(SOURCE & PHOTOS: COL.ORG.IL)