September 24, 2013
by Joshua Levitt
The Jerusalem District Police on Tuesday closed the Temple Mount to Jewish visitors during the Sukkot festival, citing “intelligence indicating intentions [by Arabs] to disturb the peace” in the area, Ha’aretz reported.
Rabbi Chaim Richman, director of the Temple Mount Institute, told The Algemeiner that “promises had been made by the police to ‘make every effort’ to ensure that the Mount would be open to Jewish visitors throughout the holiday of Sukkot,” but security concerns after the violence there on the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana trumped those assurances.
“More and more Jews have been visiting the Temple Mount in recent months,” the rabbi said. “Until it was closed today, this Sukkot has seen record numbers — over 300 Jews a day visiting the Temple Mount. If the draconian and discriminatory rules and hours were not in place, that number would skyrocket. Hundreds more, waiting in line, were denied entry.”
While he was disappointed that the Mount would be closed on Tuesday, Rabbi Richman was able to lead a tour of 55 Jews to the site in conjunction with Israeli political faction Manhigut Yehudit on Monday.
Monday’s Sukkot tour was the first of many, he hoped, aimed at reinstating the ancient tradition of Aliya L’Regel, Jewish pilgrimages to the Holy Temple on Sukkot, Pesach and Shavout. According to rabbinic sources, including Maimonides, the rabbi said, Jews are obligated to visit the Temple Mount, despite the lack of a Holy Temple, during the three pilgrimage holidays.
“Rather than point a finger and place the blame for the closure of the Temple Mount on the police or on the government, in reality it is the Jewish people who are to blame. For too long we have been indifferent to the fate of our holiest site,” he said.
While no further information was available as to the extent of the violent threat or when the mount would again be open to Jews, the rabbi said, “I certainly hope it will reopen tomorrow.”