In a desolate corridor created by Israel’s separation wall, near the main checkpoint into town on the Israeli side of the wall, stands Rachel’s Tomb. Another Bethlehem sojourner during labour, Rachel is said to have died here in childbirth, on the way south to Hebron, after which her husband, Jacob, ‘set a pillar upon her grave’ (Genesis 35:20).
Today the tomb is completely surrounded by the separation wall, and visiting the site is difficult. The gate can be reached on Arab bus 24, and Egged bus 163 from Jerusalem’s Central Bus Station goes all the way to the tomb.
Once at the tomb there are separate sides for men and women (kippas for men are available at the door).
Revered by followers of all three Abrahamic religions – Jews and Muslims in particular – it has been enshrined and guarded for centuries, from the Byzantine and Islamic eras through to the Crusaders, and during the epochs of the Ottomans and Israelis.