On Wednesday, something extraordinary happened in Jerusalem: for the first time in millennia, Jews were allowed to actually pray on the Temple Mount, the site where the ancient Temples of Israel stood.
Jews have been forbidden to pray there in recent decades because the Mount is controlled by the Islamic Waqf, a Jordanian trust site, but after the murder of two Druze Israeli policemen at the Mount by two Muslim terrorists, the Israeli government closed the Temple Mount to Muslims for the first time in decades. Jewish visitors were also banned.
But two days later, metal detectors were installed for Muslims who wanted to enter, prompting a Muslim boycott of the site. Ironically, Jewish visitors have always had to enter through metal detectors.
Because the Muslims boycotted the site, Christians and Jews were able to pray on the Mount.
Knesset member Yehudah Glick, who believes Jews and Christians should be allowed to pray on the Mount as well as Muslims, told Breaking Israel News:
This was an enormous game-changer. Everything is part of the geula (redemption) process, but the things that happen on the Temple Mount are especially so. If we want to bring world peace, we have to start there.
Israeli police were still ordered to stop non-Muslim prayer, but many Jews took advantage of the opportunity to pray; Rabbi Jeremy Gimpel, co-founder of the Land of Israel Network, emulated Jews of 2,000 years ago and prostrated himself on the stones; the Israeli police removed him from the site.
He told Breaking Israel News, “Bowing down on the stones is a Torah commandment, precisely like in Temple times, and in a way we aren’t able to do when the Waqf guards are here. I couldn’t resist. I felt like every prayer, every mitzvah (Torah commandment) done at the Temple Mount opened the door to geula just a little more.”
On Tuesday, Avi Dichter, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and former head of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), proclaimed, “Israel is the sovereign on the Temple Mount, period. The fact that the Waqf became a sovereign on the Temple Mount ended last Friday.”
Jane Kiel, a Christian advocate, whose videos show Muslims visitors desecrating the site with barbecues, soccer games, piles of garbage, and even urinating on the site, echoed, “It was a total experience of awe. This is [sic] way this holy place is supposed to be. I didn’t feel any fear or hatred or anger. For the first time, I felt what a House of Prayer was really like.”
She added, “This is not just a Jewish battle. I am a Christian trying to wake up Christians to act. They should be outraged. They should make the Temple Mount their first stop when they come to Israel. This is really a battle over whether or not the Bible is true.”
Aedan O’Connor, a Jewish Canadian student who is studying in Israel, posted a Facebook video of herself reciting the Shema, the holiest prayer in Judaism, at the site. That video has amassed over 40,000 views. She asserted:
This is my homeland, and no one can stop me from praying at my holiest site. I want everyone to be able to be able to pray here peacefully. The only way to ensure that all holy sites, Jewish Christian and Muslim, remain open to all people is to have them under Israeli sovereignty. The Waqf objects to metal detectors. It can’t be any clearer that they want the Temple Mount to be a battlefield and not a place of prayer.
Glick concluded, “Without any compromise, the Temple Mount has to be a universal House of Prayer, and cannot be a place of violence.”
For a video of Gimpel's emotional journey to the holiest place in Judaism, see below: