I am often asked, what is my favorite place in Jerusalem?
Well, as a tour guide, I love sharing so many special places with my guests, but it is the most “controversial” spot that rivets my imagination, my soul and yearning.
If Jerusalem is our eternal capital and God’s chosen home on earth, then the Temple Mount is the inner sanctum – literally.
Yes, I know that today, the Israeli government, in its weakness, is colluding with and appeasing our enemies to make a Jewish visit as unpleasant as possible.
It is just this absurd, shameful reality that underlines just how special this spot must be.
If we Jews don’t get it than our enemies certainly do.
I had the honor of guiding a young gentleman who I would describe as a believing Christian and a great supporter of Israel. He asked me to accompany him up to the Temple Mount among some other Jerusalem sites. I told him, I would be honored to do so but warned him that if he were associated with an identifiable Jew it may be a surprising experience. He was willing to take the chance.
I first immersed myself in the mikva ( ritual bath) and made sure to wear non leather shoes as prescribed by halacha.
We proceeded to the long line waiting at the entrance to the mount. There was a large group of yeshiva students who were, as usual, being harassed and delayed for hours as the tourists flitted past them to the Mount.
They were suspect; They had to be severely warned not to even think about prayer. on the holiest site. To see this process of intimidation is painful.
I decided therefore to wear a cap and hide my kippa. This subterfuge worked and we three tourists were smoothly admitted.
As we entered the mount I saw the usual scene; tourists, prowling, arrogant ‘Wakf” Muslim officials – the ones who keep an eagle eye out for the stray Jew who may have slipped through the kapo selection.
We looked harmless enough to the many peering eyes. I noticed the large groups of Muslim women whose job is to accost any Jews who are “caught” looking Jewish. It was eerie to be sure but it was not my first time there.
I was able to show my guests where millions of Jews for centuries, packed the seventeen foot ball field size platform on the holidays. I showed him where the Levites sang their praises to God and where the priests brought the sacrifices and incense and bread offerings.
I recounted the kings and prophets who stood where we were standing. I tried to reconstruct the glory of the place where all the Nations met to brought their offerings to the one true God and represented His eat on earth.
He got it. I caught the tears welling up in his eyes.
I turned to him and said,”. Are you willing to be associated with an identifiable Jew on this place?
Are you ready for some action”? I took off my hat and disclosed my kippa. I let my fringes fly. I was no longer a Jew in hiding.
With in seconds they came to life. The women in black in their head to toe shock troop gear and the “Wakf”, prowlers emerged from every corner and surrounded us. A crescendo of “Allah hu Akbar” filled the air and walkie talkies began crackling;
“Yahud! Yahud!”(Jew! Jew!)
My guest was visibly shocked and frightened.. He grabbed my arm.
“You must leave the mountain. Your time is up” they shouted.
I said,”what time?” I pointed to other tourist leisurely walking near us.
One finally pointed his finger accusingly, “You are a Jew!.”
I admitted to the crime., “Yes”.
He was sure that this admission of guilt was enough to make us flee the mount.
I moved far too slowly for him and a large number of police (ninety percent of the police in the old City are Arabs)of ever higher ranks were called to the “scene of the crime.”
They physically nudged me on in the direction of the gate. I asked “what law did I break?” “Why are other tourists allowed… “?
One officer explained, “had you identified as a Jew from the beginning (and not get the better of their selection) they would have accompanied me “for my own safety” I said, “OK you may accompany me now for my safety. There are lots of you here”.
They were not amused.
Ever increasing threatening signals were sent my way.
At one point, an older Arab man with a huge walking stick yelled at me “You are stupid”! I returned the compliment and he had murder in his eyes as he raised his weapon. A police officer addressed him with great deference and plead with him not to do what he obviously wanted to do to me.
Boy, if they could, they would!
We were expelled from our holiest ground by threatening Muslims and their Jewish police servants.
We saw a group of yeshiva boys dancing and singing outside the gate after being allowed up for a five minute visit ( after waiting three hours). They were heavily accompanied by the police to make sure they do not provoke the Muslims by moving their lips in prayer. One student was surrounded by high ranking officers as he attempted to drink from the public fountain. They suspected that he might make a blessing before drinking and thus cause a riot…
I joined these amazing young people in their dance and song as Muslim curses rang in our ears..
Turns out, one of the young men was badly hurt by an Arab on the mount. We saw him being accompanied to an ambulance with his arm in a sling.
I asked him what happened?. He said an Arab began pushing him and he responded by pouring water on him. At that point the Arab threw him down and pummeled him while the police just looked on.
I have heard of these things happening but to interview the boy in the sling and hear his story ….what can I say?.
My guest certainly did not bargain for this education but he was very grateful and commented, “no one knows what is happening up there! Its unbelievable!
He also told me that he always wondered if he would ever in his life be in a position where he stood unflinchingly with good against evil. He thanked me for fulfilling that quest on that day.
All other amazing places in our beloved city are in another league