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September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
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Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

‘Too Jewish’ to Pray on the Temple Mount

"I removed my hat and placed my kippa on my head. I let my tzizit out to fly like a Jewish flag."
Jews are watched by guards on the Temple Mount, to make sure they don't pray.

Jews are watched by guards on the Temple Mount, to make sure they don't pray.
Photo Credit: Lucie March/Flash 90

I know it is not hard news, but it happened to me just yesterday.

I  carefully thought out my preparations for the experience I was planning for my tourists on the Temple Mount.

I went  to the Mikva (ritual immersion) early that morning, and made sure to wear non-leather shoes as Halacha (Jewish law) instructs.

Then I prepared my back pack and  the contents of my pockets making sure there was nothing  that could incriminate me at the security check before entering the site.  My tzitzit were well tucked into my pants. I wore  a hat and hid my kippa in a secret compartment (I can’t disclose where – who knows who might be reading this  article?)

As we approached the security check I was confident that I would pass by as easily as if I were like the non-Jewish visitors. I recognized Motti, the Israeli police officer who has won a reputation for his keen sense of smell. He can detect a Jew a mile away.

He looked me over and I thought I passed. But I was discovered.  All my fault. I forgot an obvious thing! I totally had forgotten about the small prayer, composed by the late Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, on behalf of Jonathan Pollard. I was caught red handed! He demanded to know if I knew what this is! I said “yes, a prayer for our brother Jonathan Pollard.” He frowned and declared that it is forbidden material and was being confiscated. I could pick it up later. I was warned not to pray or make any trouble.

I asked myself how these Jews could allow themselves to be used as kapos – in the  very heart of  what is most holy to our people. How do they sleep at night? What do they tell their families when they come home from another day’s work ?

How shamed and shocked I felt, as the long line of visitors filed by.

I was being questioned and threatened by Motti and was wondering if they realized that I just did not succeed in passing for one of  them!

Fifteen minutes later I was allowed to join my rather shaken tourists on the Mount. But the best was yet to come.

As we proceeded, I heard a chanting din coming from another part of the mountain. It sounded much like the chanting of Arab rioters that I have heard so often in the media.

Coming towards me was an elderly bearded man dressed in classic ultra-Orthodox attire. He was accompanied by a few young boys. They were not trying to hide their Jewish appearance, but they had the distinct look of fear in their eyes after running the gauntlet of threats and taunts by an Arab crowd moments before.

I greeted him warmly and he responded  as one greeting a stranger on a desert island. He  and his little group were shadowed by two policemen making sure my new friends did not move their lips in prayer and thus arouse the sensibilities and ire of the Arabs. (I wondered how the Arab boys playing soccer on the holy site did not upset their sensibilities.) Our meeting was immediately reported by the nervous police escort as the walkie-talkies came alive.

After we parted and proceeded alone, I realized that we were being watched not only by the police, but by a large group of Arab youths who had marked us by our association with the bearded Jew.

It was now our turn. They dogged us with chants of “Allah hu Akbar”! ( God is Great ) The yelling of their God’s name spurred them on to increasing taunts and threats and bumping us.

About the Author: Shalom Pollack is a writer and tour guide in Israel. www.shalompollacktours.co.il


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64 Responses to “‘Too Jewish’ to Pray on the Temple Mount”

  1. Larry Lopez says:

    They have more right than Muslims.

  2. Larry Lopez says:

    They have more right than Muslims.

  3. Everywhere in the world Muslims choose the most public and inappropriate places to pray, even blocking traffic, yet on the Temple Mount, a Jewish holy place, praying Is forbidden. Go figure…!

  4. Hopefully all that digging will make it fall, then it will go back to the Jewish ppl, who already have one ready to go up! I saw a report where an archeologist said that all the digging around it , is causing structural damage.

  5. Rubin Helrich says:

    i am a jew every where i go and proud of it!

  6. Accused of being too Jewish by anyone is a compliment whether they are bright enough to understand it or not. The guard should have been thanked. ;-) But don’t worry, the Temple Mount -Har HaBayit will be ours again soon. And we wouldn’t want gentiles praying in a sacred area either (I wouldn’t).

  7. Eduardo Mazo says:

    Let pray at heart not anyplace.

  8. Get off our mount ARAB MUSLIMS

  9. Ray Buchmann says:

    It’s not right that a jewish person can’t pray on the holiest location in Jerusalem

  10. I DONT THINK SO!!! GOOD LUCK!!! BY THE WAY GET SOME MASONS AND OPEN UP THE EASTERN GOLDEN GATE!!! CHANGE THE NAME OF THE ARAB NAMED”DUNG” GATE TO “LION OF JUDAH GATE”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Get rid of the Muslims, the temple mount belongs to the Jews.

  12. enough of this abuse pray and don’t be bullied

  13. The Ishmaelites defile the land on which they brazenly walk. At least they take off their shoes.

  14. I don’t know how this escaped my attention. How is it possible for any Jewish person to be “Too Jewish to Pray on the Temple Mount?” I am not Jewish but as a Christian I would be hard pressed not to pray at the most Holy Site in the Land of Israel. G_D only knows where this madness will all end.

  15. Seriously? Why would you deny any one the right to pray? PERIOD! If what you say is true then you are no better than the Arabs,

  16. Someday not only will you pry but see the Messiah here.

  17. Brian Somers says:

    Soon, don’t know when, the Temple mount well be fully yours and prayer will be at more than just the western wall

  18. Do you understand the subject? The sacred area I refer to is the same area gentiles were always prohibited from on pain of death. It would be no different in the future. Why would a gentile want to enter into an area he was not wanted reserved to those who worship the G-d of Israel? So yes, very seriously; and my personal opinion is that Christians are no better than Arabs; they’re bad perhaps but so far Christians have been much, much worse until recently. They are no better than Arabs on their best day. “Christian” is about the dirtiest thing I would call someone, the tormentors and murderers of the Jewish people for hundreds of years. And it will not surprise me when these murderers start killing Jews again.

  19. I.e., “bright enough” refers to the PA guard.

  20. Too Jewish to a plishti guard means that the guy looked as if he would be most likely to want to pray on the mount and thus break PA rules.

  21. I should not be surprised at your hostility and vitriol towards Christians. You keep that attitude and you will get your wish. If all Christians felt the same way you do towards us in reference to the Jewish people the Nation of Israel would never have come into existence in 1948. Instead of hating us you should be thankful for the support we have shown your people otherwise you would not even be here to hate us.

  22. Thank you, Massa’

  23. Any guesses who that Messiah will be?? ;-)

  24. It only needs for people to believe it is holy for it to be as holy as they believe.

  25. Get rid of religion.
    The land belongs to no one.

  26. We should be careful of people who are using Jews to carry out there own purposes whether they be Christians, Muslims, atheists, or anyone else. Jews with allies? Jews who owe other religions and gods for what they have? There is only One we owe anything to and need to obey and trust in and when we do that the rest will be accomplished.

  27. Queen Rivka ;-), Israel could remove the gentiles anytime it it decided to do so. Who is stopping it? Muslims?? No. Time for the next step. ;-)

  28. rights are equal in life
    religion only obscures that.

  29. Ah, the joys of religious bickering.

  30. Shemaya – Agreed! Time for the next step

  31. SO MORONS JEWS HATE JEWS! SHAME

  32. You are welcome Shemaya. :) Joseph Vance Visual-Artist It really is such a waste of time.

  33. I have found, that religious people work well with their own kind, that follow their own beliefs.
    The problem ensues when someone either questions that belief, or steps into where the religious person thinks they should not have right to.

    This thought stems from low self-esteem and a power hungry people with a god complex.

    It will not be until people recognize their humble equality with all things that sense will be made. These places are not holy to themselves, all places are sacred, as all things existent and non-existent are sacred.

    Playing religion is much like playing politics, only the Masters on top get benefit and know that it is all an illusion.

  34. This isn’t religious per se. Israel belongs to us.

  35. It’s just as much a political and social matter. If another country occupied Washington, DC, or the Vatican’s policies were dictated by Baptists would be a legitimate comparison. And then there is the matter of chauvinism (actual definition) where supposedly superior cultures, etc., belief they have the right to dictate it standards on another. Whatever happens in Israel is fair game for whomever walked through the place once. A bluemillion Christian and Muslim cults, their corresponding political persuasions, international strategists, businesses, and more. The last say seems to be those who actually have a 2000 year old case of dispossession of their own property.

  36. Here’s a hint for the Perplexed…”Jewish” Press… may tend to have Jewish views rather than non-Jews’ views. And though all people have rights Jewish people on a possibly Jewish page might assume they can have them without non-Jews riding herd and ‘correcting’ us. Jews are quite capable of disagreeing among themselves and often seek correction from other Jews.

  37. That is a grand amount of segregation.
    Hint for the seemingly confused.
    All press is viewable and readable by all people that can read the delivered message.
    All people have a right not only to read what is released, but react to it as well. As far as ‘correcting’ Jews, NO person or place is more elevated in rights or worth than any other.

    Jews are OBVIOUSLY NOT CAPABLE of settling disagreements among themselves or any other Nation, or we would not be having this conversation.

  38. Does any country belong to anyone? Is there any real difference between religion and politics. Anarchist? Jews don’t have the right to rule their own religion in their own country? Religious and non-religious Jews want territorial integrity, safety, etc., or its past even if they are just archaeological sites of a bygone time preserved.

  39. Jews were in Israel before 1948, and defended themselves against the Arab nations without anyone. “Christian” assistance for what little there has been, comes because of Christian mythology believes its god will need both an Israel, and Temple among other things to make the fairy tale come true. Of course David you realize I was being facetious by making a reference to Louisiana’s racist past as a joke. In Christian mythology the Jews need a temple to welcome and worship “the anti-Christ” be damned and given another chance to worship Jesus. This is why Israel gets support from Christians and the Christian dominated countries.

  40. Where I differ in opinion is the idea of possession.

    The geo-political stance you are mentioning makes rational sense only to people that play the game of religion and politics. Stepping out of that mindset for a moment. Just to hear an outside point of view, let me offer this thought.

    I disagree with the idea of a Jew not being able to pray wherever they desire, outside of a political forum.
    I disagree with the idea of a Christian not being able to pray wherever they desire, outside of a political forum.
    I disagree with the idea of a Muslim not being able to pray wherever they desire, outside of a political forum.

    Ownership of “sacred” and “Holy” grounds is absurd to not allow prayer by anyone offering honor and prayer.

    If, on the other hand, desecration or defilement of the structure, area or prayer was being conducted, that is another matter.

    I’m an Atheist, a very stern Atheist, yet I honor people’s right to believe in whatever floats their boat. I believe they have a right to choose to follow whichever god, in whichever form of belief system. That is free will of all humans. However, stepping on another person’s right to faith and the expression thereof is not only lunacy, it is fanatical.

    Again, My Opinions.

  41. Jews pray in synagogues, or where they please. The Temple is not for praying as much as that is all they can do there (theoretically). But if everyone has the right to what floats their boat, our boat involves a strictly prescribed place for a certain type of religious expression so demarcated that all Jews cannot even perform except strictly defined actions. Most ‘Israelites’ cannot do what some religious personnel are only qualified to do. Not every Jew has access to every area of the Temple. Christians do not believe in this arrangement or its need, and are not privileged to participate except in an outer area where their presence will not defile the area. That is our right to define our own religion as we see it prescribed to us. Christians do worship in many places but have nothing that compares to the Temple (this is why they constantly inject themselves into issues regarding a Temple. (They once deliberately defiled it because Jews rejected Jesus so they defile our Temple mount. Muslims’ predominant place of worship is not Jerusalem but considered holy in relation to events in the life of Muhammad. In short this is the place where we are told how, when, and why to worship G-d. It is not comparable to either Muslim, Christian, or other worship places. The worship is not the same, praying is something with great importance because we cannot fully enjoy our worship of G-d. And worshiping without regard to specific prescribed rituals and requirements does defile the Mount and (future) Temple. Again, it is much more than praying.

  42. With respect of not wanting to argue semantics or cause a riff to schism even deeper between our points of view, I will concede to the discussion. Your point of view will not change, and neither will mine.

    The whole argument of privilege is one of the main reasons I studied religion. From my studies, I know the doctrine and dogma of Judaism, the borrowed traditions that are mostly disregarded by the Christians, and the changes in doctrine by the Muslims.

    I also understand the perceived depth of reverence that the Jewish people connect to specific places, events and time.

    I agree that Christians are not as reverent to these ideals.

    I beg to differ that Muslims don’t have reverance, because most are very strict on Holy places, times and events.

    There are some VERY distinct differences between all of the religions of Abraham, but they all follow a very similar path. That path is NOT one I can agree with.

    So, good luck with your cause, but one day may you recognize that life’s journey is about equality, not privilege.

    May you find peace in that.

  43. I seem to have trouble with your use of the word “Gentile” as you are using it to describe a non Jew. This is derogatory and disrespectful term to use towards others that are from different backrounds. Anyone should be allowed to pray too god anywhere they want without harassment .What harm are the really doing? What is it to you that they pray? Why is it so much your business or anyone’s? Lets just put religion aside for a moment and be logical about this.

  44. Lee Graysonn says:

    Its not the Muslims it the Palestinians

  45. Anonymous says:

    the Israeli government has enough trouble with Arab provocateurs; it really doesn't need a Jewish double-agent looking to foment trouble

  46. Praying on teh temple mount is trouble or a person thinking its a problem is trouble. for many its the latter.

  47. The State of Israel must rebuild the Temple of God, because it is written in the Torah, in Exodus 25:8, that God commanded Israel to make for Him a sanctuary.
    The State of Israel must forbid the practice of Islam in the Land of Israel, because it is written in the Torah, in Exodus 22:19, that God commanded that, if a human being sacrifices to other god, he be condemned to death, and the Muslims sacrifice to other god, because their god, in the Quran, said words that contradict the words that the true God had said before, that are written in the Tanakh. For example: In the Quran, the false prophet Muhammad said that his false god said that the holy day is the sixth day of the week (Quran 62:9), when the true God had said before, in Exodus 20:8-11, that the holy day is the seventh day of the week.

  48. Good read, thank you. This simply must stop! The pitting of Jewish police against Jewis citizens of Israel is the vile and unclean conduct of the worst kind of oppressor…our own! The islamics have no right to be there and receive this protection…! When will Jewish youth congregate on the Holy site and confront both the enemy and our own oppressors? That islam is evil is well known, ultimately; "They Must Go!"

  49. This has to stop. I know when I go over there. I WILL PRAY and nothing will stop me.

  50. Anonymous says:

    Israel is surely the only country in the world to allow its citizens to be abused in this way. It's also the only tiny land they have–why would they accede to ANY Arab demands about how/where Jews can pray?

    How did this happen?

  51. It is just terrible that a Jew cannot pray on the Temple Mount — it was ours way long before the Muslims came along! When I am in Jerusalem next year I will make it my business to move my lips in prayer there. So let them then try to beat me up – more of us have stand up to that chutzpah! Get tough Jews!! That's all they understand ….

  52. Brian Shapiro says:

    Thanks for keeping us informed about the cowards.

  53. James Hamilton says:

    I am sure Israeli security checking Jews not to pray at the Temple Mount must be their strategy for some bigger achievement later. We should not forget that land may be of Holy Temple but at present it is Mosque thus any thing but presence of God therefore all logic to utter pray there is defeated anyway. I would rather wait to pray at the new temple when built and presence of God Abraham, Issac and Jacob manifest there.

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