Temple Mount advocacy groups are planning something special on Jerusalem Day, which will be celebrated in eleven days on Thursday, May 18: a mass ascension to Judaism’s holiest site. While a spectacular turnout is expected, certain aspects underscore how Jews are still refused equal rights in the heart of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem Day is a national holiday celebrating the reunification of the Jews’ eternal capital in the 1967 SIx-Day War. On July 30, 1980, the Israeli Knesset ratified the Basic Law on Jerusalem, officially annexing the pre-1967 eastern parts of the city of Jerusalem. It is normally celebrated on the Hebrew date of Iyar 28 and is marked officially throughout Israel with state ceremonies and memorial services.
Avraham Truitt, the English-language spokesman for the Beyadenu Temple Mount advocacy organization, said that they are expecting “record crowds” to ascend.
“There will be many tours and we are expecting several Members of Knesset, major rabbis, and other important people,” Truitt said. “This is a day when Jews always come out to display their love for the heart of the city.”
Asaf Fried, the spokesman for the United Temple Movement, noted that like other national holidays, the holiday will be celebrated one day in advance so as not to conflict with Shabbat. Ironically, Jews will not be permitted to ascend the Temple Mount on Jerusalem Day as it falls on a Friday when Jews are banned from the site.
“When Jerusalem Day falls on a Friday, the marches and other celebrations are held on the preceding Thursday,” Fried said. “Ideally, it would be wonderful if the Jews could celebrate Jerusalem on the Temple Mount but since Friday is the Muslim sabbath, it has never been open to Jews on that day, even if our holiday falls on that day. Conversely, the Temple Mount is routinely closed to Jews on Muslim holidays, as it was for the last ten days of Ramadan.”
“For now, that is not a battle we choose to fight,” Fried added. “We are working for reasonable and attainable goals, like Jewish visitation at night and on Shabbat, which is not significant to the Muslims.”
Dr. Melissa Jane Kronfeld, the founder of the High on the Har Temple Mount advocacy organization, was looking forward to seeing masses of Jews at the site on Jerusalem Day, but she acknowledged the situation is far from ideal.
“One of the goals of the Temple Mount movement more broadly and my organization, in particular, is to ensure equal rights and access to the Temple Mount,” Dr. Kronfeld told Israel365 News. “This includes access in the context of which gates we can enter and with what objects of religious meaning we can bring, but it also includes the days and times in which Jews are permitted on the Temple Mount as it is a ‘house of prayer for all people’.”
“But that is not the situation as it stands today,” she noted. “We cannot go to the Temple Mount, on Fridays and Saturdays, the holiest time for the Jews each week, a time period which has no significance to Islam.”
“These restrictions on access are even more difficult and more painful on our national and religious holidays when there is a full ban on Jewish worship and access,” she said. “Even more so as we celebrate the 56th anniversary of Jerusalem Day, and we remember how the brave men or women of the Israel Defense Forces, returned the eternal capital of the state of Israel back to the Jewish people after 2000 years. This serves as a distinct reminder that the promise of ensuring Jewish rights on the Temple Mount remains unfulfilled. It is our responsibility today to stand on the front lines of this battle and continue to fight for our right to access the Temple Mount to worship on the Temple Mount and to advocate for the State of Israel to assert sovereignty over the temple mount so that it can truly be what God intended it to be..." Click here to continue reading.