If this was an ordinary year, Rabbi Danny Cohen would be preparing to host record crowds at Chabad of Hebron’s annual Shabbat Chayei Sarah mega-gathering located near the Me’arat Hamachpelah (“Cave of the Patriarchs”). But due to the coronavirus, few things are ordinary in 2020.

So in order to bring the Hebron experience to as many Jews as possible, Chabad of Hebron and Rabbi Asi Spiegel have organized the broadcasting of a live event at 8 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) from the field of Machpelah—close by the site where the Jewish patriarch Abraham offered food and drink to wayfarers from an open tent in the hot desert sun—recognized through the ages as the image of unstinting hospitality.

Held annually on the Shabbat coinciding with the Torah portion of Chayei Sarah, which tells of Abraham’s purchase of the burial plot in Hebron for his deceased wife, Sarah, which later housed the tombs of all of the patriarchs and matriarchs except for Rachel. The event, incorporating food, song and togetherness, has become a model of Jewish unity, solidarity and continuity, in recent years organized by Cohen and his wife, Batsheva, co-directors of Chabad of Hebron. Last year’s event drew more than 6,000 to Hebron for a festive Shabbat meal.

This years’s event will feature live music by a five-piece band, segments of a pre-recorded behind the scenes tour of Hebron, a video message from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in honor of Chayei Sarah. Hebron Jewish Community spokesman Noam Arnon will share his firsthand experience of entering the actual Cave of Machpelah, long closed to the general public.

“This is always by far the biggest event of the year for Hebron,” Rabbi Cohen told Chabad.org. “About 30,000 visitors generally come for Shabbat Chayei Sarah. But this year, because of the coronavirus, tourism has dropped by 95 percent. Hebron and Kiryat Arba are surrounded by roadblocks intended to keep away visitors. It can even be difficult even to obtain a minyan.”

“We seek to extract the positive from every situation, and since the event will be online, it will be open to even more participants than ever. We hope to spread the Hebron energy to the masses and ‘infect’ them with joy. The RebbeRabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—would say that Hebron signifies Jewish unity, as is evident in the Hebrew root of the word. We want Jews to see beyond the news headlines that sometimes paint Hebron with negative connotations,” said Cohen.

The Cohens have been serving the Jewish population of Hebron since 2002, building on a continuous Chabad presence in the city since the summer of 1967 in the aftermath of the Six-Day War, when it returned to Jewish hands. Chabad’s connection goes even further back to the time of Rebbetzin Menucha Rochel Slonim, the daughter of Rebbe DovBer, the Mittler Rebbe, and a beloved and revered foundation of the community for 43 years from the middle to late 1800s.

The event can be viewed beginning on Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. at: https://www.chabadhebron.com/shabbathebron