Ban on Passover sacrifice gets groups’ goat

Permission for Association of Temple Organizations to perform annual Passover sacrifice reenactment refused.

MAN HOLDS lamb at  reenactment of Passover sacrifice 370 (photo credit: Association of Temple Organizations)
MAN HOLDS lamb at reenactment of Passover sacrifice 370
(photo credit: Association of Temple Organizations)
The Association of Temple Organizations, refused permission to perform its annual Passover sacrifice reenactment by the Jerusalem Veterinary Services, has submitted a legal petition to the Jerusalem District Court requesting that it instruct the Veterinary Services to issue the permit.
The association says it has slaughtered a lamb each year since 2008 as an educational exercise to demonstrate what took place in Temple times.
The groups have requested permission each year but were denied this time around following an unsuccessful exchange of letters with the Jerusalem Veterinary Services and the Agriculture Ministry.
The case will be heard on Wednesday morning, with the Temple renewal groups hoping to be granted a permit in order to carry out its Passover sacrifice reenactment on Thursday afternoon at the Armon Hanatziv promenade overlooking the Old City and the Temple Mount.
The Passover sacrifice was an ancient ritual performed by Jewish families for the Passover holiday during the times of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, in commemoration of the biblical account of the Exodus from Egypt in which the Israelites were commanded to slaughter a lamb and put its blood on their doorposts.
The Association of Temple Organizations, which includes several right-wing organizations promoting Jewish rights to the Temple Mount, asserted that although a lamb is actually slaughtered, it is not a formal sacrifice, since that can be done only on the Temple Mount itself.
Yehuda Glick, spokesman for the association, said the purpose of the reenactment and much of the groups’ activities was to “demystify” the Temple and show it and the rituals surrounding it as a real and tangible phenomenon.
Among the organizations of the association are the Movement for Preparation for the Temple, The Temple Mount Heritage Foundation, the Temple Mount Faithful, The Organization for Human Rights on the Temple Mount and the Temple Institute, among others.
Many of these groups are also active in promoting Jewish prayer and visitation rights on the Temple Mount.
Jewish and non-Muslim visitors to the Temple Mount are strictly controlled, and the police prohibit all non-Muslim prayer and worship at the site because of possible tensions and disturbances this may cause.
In 2007 the association requested from the relevant authorities to carry out a ritual sacrifice on the Temple Mount itself but were refused permission.
The association pointed out it in its petition to the Jerusalem District Court that thousands of sheep are slaughtered for the Islamic festival of Id al-Adha outside of approved slaughterhouses.
In addition, it noted that 15 permits for ritual sacrifice were granted by the Ministry for Agriculture in 2010 for 522 head of sheep, all of which were approved.
The association was first refused a permit by the Jerusalem Veterinary Services, which said that permission was first required from the Veterinary Service of the Agriculture Ministry. The ministry in turn said it required a permit from the Jerusalem Veterinary Services.
Since the initial refusal, the association received a letter from the Agriculture Ministry explaining that a permit was refused because the slaughter was also performed as a public event, which entailed cruelty to animals, and so a permit was needed from the commissioner for the Law Against Animal Cruelty.
The district court and the High Court of Justice have previously upheld the right to perform ritual slaughter and sacrificial ceremonies.