Hebron-Past, Present and Forever
[The Jewish Community of Hebron, April 19, 1998]
Dovi Dribin wasn't a friend of mine. I don't remember ever even speaking with him. But he was a familiar sight in Kiryat Arba for many years. He was hard to miss - a big fellow, tall and muscular. And he was quite conspicuous - more often than not he was sitting atop a huge horse, prancing through the streets.
Dovi Dribin's father Eddie is described by many as a 'cowboy.' A gruff-looking man, he preceded his son on horseback. To the best of my recollection, he came to Israel in the 1950's after serving in the US army in the Korean War. He was employed for many years in security-related jobs. He moved to Kiryat Arba in the early 1970's, not long after the establishment of the community.
Dovi Dribin married Adi, a strong-willed woman, a couple of years older than himself. Together they had four children - four boys. The oldest is seven and a half. The youngest, less than a year old. The five year old, Nir, suffers from cerebral palsy. His legs don't work. But his head does. One of the speakers at the funeral told how he sat with Nir in the Maon community sandbox earlier today. Nir started telling him Bible stories, focussing around King David. He related the story of David and Goliath, and told how David had wandered in the same fields, near his own house, trying to escape King Saul. When asked who had taught him these stories, Nir answered: "My father, when we would ride together on his big horse, through the fields."
Two years ago Dovi and Adi moved to Maon, a small agricultural community about 20 minutes south of Hebron. Maon's 40 families work fields, milk cows, grow fruit, and raise children. An overwhelming majority of Maon's residents are children. The total population is somewhere over 200. Adi Dribin, aside from child-raising and fully participating in her husband's activities, works in the community's nursery school.
Dovi Dribin wasn't your normal kind of guy, who could live just like everyone else. Not too long after the family moved to Maon they requested to live on the outskirts of the community, in a house separated from the others. Dovi liked the feeling of openness - and didn't like to be crowded in. From his new dwelling, Dovi could look around him and see fields and hills. The view is breathtaking. The air is clean and the fragrances on a spring day, like today, are something out of the Garden of Eden.
Eighteen months ago Dovi, and two of his friends, Yehoshefat Tur, nicknamed Fetti, and Efraim (Effi) Pearl, started a small agricultural and sheep farm on a hilltop, a few kilometers from Dovi's house. They spent much of their time here, working the land and grazing their sheep. The hilltop is located within the municipal boundary of the Maon community.
Several weeks ago the men were attacked by Arabs. Fetti Tur shot his pistol in the air, to chase away the attackers. Hebron police later arrested him, confiscated his gun, and charged him with shooting in a 'populated area.' Only a few days ago was the weapon returned and the charges dropped.
Last week Dovi Dribin filed charges with the Hebron police against Arabs in the vicinity. He reported that they were harassing him and had threatened to kill him. It seems that the police ignored his complaint. This morning, eight to ten Arabs ambushed him. When he arrived at the farm they started pelting him with rocks and hitting him with clubs. Fetti Tur, ran to his friend's aid. Again he tried to shoot in the air, to chase away the attackers. However this time he was overcome and his gun taken from him. The Arabs used this gun to shoot five bullets into Dovi Dribin - through his heart and into his head. Effi Pearl, hearing the noise, came running. He too was hit with rocks and clubs. The murderers escaped. A suspect was later apprehended.
When I heard that Dovi was to be buried in the Sussia regional cemetery, not far from Maon, I was surprised. Dovi lived most of his life in Kiryat Arba and it seemed fitting that he should be laid to rest in Hebron. But when I arrived at the cemetery, along with the thousands of others who accompanied Dovi on his final journey through his beloved fields and hills, I finally understood. The small graveyard is ensconced in the spacious tranquility Dovi Dribin so cherished. The green fields, the wavy hills, the blue sky - tranquility mixed together with Dovi Dribin's blood. And soaked with tears.