This Day in Jewish History August 23

Escalating tensions between Arabs and Jews culminated in a brutal massacre in Hebron on this day in 1929, clearing the city of its Jewish population for years to come.

David Green
David B. Green
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
David Green
David B. Green

On this day in 1929, the infamous massacre of the Jews of Hebron by Palestinian Arabs began. Unrest had spread to the city from Jerusalem, where a week earlier the grand mufti, Haj Amin al Husseini, helped spread rumors that Jews were killing and raping Muslims and were planning to burn down Al-Aqsa Mosque. By Thursday, August 22, Jews were being attacked in established Jewish communities like Safed and Motza, as well as in Hebron. Over a 24-hour period, one British police officer in Hebron, Raymond Cafferata, attempted to keep Jews and Arabs separate and dispel the inflammatory rumors.

Many of Hebron’s 800 Jewish residents took refuge in Beit Romano, the British police station, and a large number of Jews were protected by their Arab neighbors. But the violence was nonetheless devastating, leaving 67 Jews dead, many of them students at the Hebron Yeshiva. Arab rioters at one point told local rabbi Yaakov Slonim, who had opened his home to frightened Jews, that they would spare the town’s Sephardi Jews if he would turn over the Ashkenazim. When he refused, Slonim was killed.

When the riots died down, Mandatory officials directed the remaining Jews in Hebron to leave town. They did, and resettled in Jerusalem. Although 160 Jews returned to the town two years later, they had all left again by the time of Israeli Independence. Only after the Six-Day War in 1967 did Jews return to Hebron. Today, there is a settlement of some 500 Jewish residents in the heart of the city of more than 160,000 Palestinians.

The Cave of the Patriachs in Hebron.Credit: Hagai Ofen



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott