“Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, who stood before the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem; and he burned the house of the LORD, and the king’s house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, even every great man’s house, burned he with fire.” (Jeremiah 52:12-13)
On the anniversary of the destruction of Judaism’s Holy Temple, a young Jewish man was carried off by police for having the audacity to pray on the Temple Mount, reported Israel National News. The event was captured on video and uploaded to YouTube.
The video depicts a bearded Jewish man sitting on a step, covering his eyes according to Jewish tradition, and loudly reciting the six-word (in Hebrew) Jewish declaration of faith, known as the Shema: Hear, O Israel, the Lord, our God, the Lord is One.
Immediately, police rush him from the scene, hushing him as they go. A number of other Jewish onlookers are seen filming the incident, with one muttering to the camera, “What Jewish bravery!”
Founder of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation and world-renowned activist Rabbi Yehuda Glick told Breaking Israel News that the incident proves “very sad and disturbing.”
“Finally, after 2,000 years, we return home to our homeland, to the capital of our independent state, the only Jewish state and we find ourselves being arrested for reciting a verse of prayer. I cannot think of anything more absurd than that. This situation must maneuver to a totally new direction, a much more positive one, one more of respect to human beings, in other word respect to God.”
“The fact that it was the Shema overemphasizes how insane the situation is on the Temple Mount and all because Israel does not want to hurt the feelings of Muslims,” he said. “The situation is reaching a point of total insanity. I think at this point it’s about time we go into a different direction.”
The Temple Mount is the site which once housed both the First and Second Jewish Temples, which tradition relates were both destroyed on the same Jewish calendar date, nearly 70 years apart. The Bible lists two different dates, the seventh or tenth day of the fifth month, called Av in Hebrew, and the Talmud explains the desecration began on the seventh, the destruction took place on the ninth and the First Temple burned into the tenth day of Av.
Since then, the ninth of Av, or Tisha b’Av, has been observed as a day of fasting and mourning by the Jewish people. On years, like 2015, when it falls on the Sabbath, the fast is postponed until Sunday, the tenth of Av. This fast lasts from sundown to sundown.
Holy to both Muslims and Christians as well, the Temple Mount fell into Jordanian hands during the 1948 war for Israel’s independence. It was recaptured by Israel in 1967 during the Six-Day War, but in an effort to maintain a delicate relationship with the Arabs, Israel opted to relinquish management of the holy site to the Muslim Waqf.
Although several court rulings have determined that under Freedom of Religion it is permissible for non-Muslims to pray on the Temple Mount, police continue to maintain a ban on such prayer, citing security concerns.
Earlier this month, a similar incident in which a Russian Jewish teacher, overwhelmed by chants of “Allahu Akhbar” (Allah is Great in Arabic), responded with the same Hebrew declaration of faith. Police, who had stood idly by until then, hurried to prevent the Jewish woman from uttering a Jewish prayer.
“How horrifying that in the midst of the violent Muslim incitement against the Jews on the Temple Mount, the policeman chose to silence the one barely audible Jewish worshiper as she uttered a prayer while ignoring the volcanic wave of Muslim hatred engulfing the group of Jews,” the woman, whose name was given as Ludmilla, wrote in a statement following the incident. She was not arrested.