Jerusalem, 2 November, 2022 (TPS) — At the National Center for the Development of the Holy Places, preparations are being made to receive the multitudes who will come to the celebration of Rachel Imenu (Rachel, wife of Isaac, the Hebrew foremother) in Bethlehem on the anniversary of her death more than 3,500 years ago. Bethlehem is the site of Rachel Imenu’s tomb, one of the holiest places in the world for Jews.
The anniversary of her death falls on the 11th day of the Hebrew month of Heshvan, which falls on Shabbat this year. So the festivities will be observed from Thursday morning at 10 AM through Sunday evening at 7 PM.
Approximately 50,000 worshipers are expected to arrive at Rachel Imenu’s tomb during that time.
The tomb complex will be opened on Saturday night, about two hours after Shabbat ends, in order to avoid the desecration of Shabbat.
The uniqueness of Rachel’s Tomb compared to other holy sites is that about 70% of those who visit it are women, and only about 30% are men. On the anniversary of her death, the proportion of women increases even more, and some of them come every year, especially from abroad.
While Bethlehem is within Area A – under the control of the Palestinian Authority and on the other side of the separation barrier – because of its importance Rachel’s Tomb was left under Israeli security with special access for Israeli worshippers.