(lubavitch.com) Under a simple brick dome in Hamadan, south of Tehran, are two beautiful wooden tomb-boxes bearing a Hebrew inscription. These are, it is believed, the burial places of Mordechai and Esther, two of Judaism’s great heroes.
Last week, a rabbi stood with his siddur and prayed at these graves. Rabbi Israel Gabbay, who wears his distinctly religious garb even when traveling to hostile places, has made it his mission to seek out the burial places of Judaism’s prophets and leaders, and ensure their preservation.
The Rabbi secured visa permits to travel from Israel to Iran, where with the help of the local Jewish community leader, he followed an itinerary that brought him up close to the resting places of ancient biblical figures.
Though gratified to find that the graves of Mordechai and Esther were well kept, he was disturbed, he said, to find “that some Jewish graves have disappeared, and in other places, football fields were built on the graves of tzadikim.”
Gabbay also visited the grave of the biblical prophet Habakuk in Toyserkan, and of Daniel—a popular attraction among local Muslims, in Shushan, (Susa), as well as those of Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (around 605 BCE).