Forty-three years after Motta Gur’s 55th (reserve) Paratroopers Brigade stormed the Old City and recaptured the Temple Mount during the Six Day War, 43 rabbis made their way to the holy site on Monday – the largest such group to visit the Temple Mount in generations.
The visitors included Chief Rabbi of Hebron and Kiryat Arba Dov Lior, chairman of the Yesha Rabbinical Council; Rabbi Yaakov Meidan, head of the Har Etzion Yeshiva; Rabbi Ram Hacohen, head of Otniel community’s yeshiva; Ofra Rabbi Avi Gisser; and National Union MKs Uri Ariel and Michael Ben-Ari.
The event, which was coordinated with Jerusalem police, was the third time in as many years that a group of rabbis visited the Temple Mount. The pilgrimage has become a tradition since the first group went up in 2007 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification.
Before ascending to the mount, the rabbis immersed themselves in a mikve (ritual bath) and held morning prayers at the Western Wall.
In a press release, the El Har Hamor organization, which together with the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation organized the event, said the rabbis’ ascent was meant to “express the deep bond with the holy site.”
“It is also significant in terms of public awareness,” the statement continued. “The presence of rabbis visiting the site together shows their students in particular, and the public in general, the value and importance of visiting the Temple Mount in holiness and in purity.”
Yehuda Glick, chairman of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation, told The Jerusalem Post that the visit would also “show that those who are going up to the Temple Mount are not a handful of crazies, but mainstream rabbis, most of whom are from the national-religious stream.”
Two haredi rabbis were among the visitors, he said.
“Our goal is [to] truly realize the phrase ‘Har Habayit B’yadeinu’ – the Temple Mount is in our hands,” Glick said, quoting the words uttered by Gur after his paratroopers reached the site on June 7, 1967.
“How do we realize this phrase?” Glick asked. “By spreading awareness of the site’s holiness.”
“I remember that 10 years ago, people believed it was dangerous to go
to Ir David [the City of David in the Silwan neighborhood],” he
continued. “But now, a decade later, every Absorption Ministry ulpan
goes there for a day trip.”
“We’re also hoping to show people that it’s not the Western Wall that
is the holy site, but the place above it – the Temple Mount – which is
the holiest site for Jews in the world,” Glick said.