In the days to come, The Mount of Hashem‘s House Shall stand firm above the mountains And tower above the hills; And all the nations Shall gaze on it with joy. Isaiah 2:2 (The Israel BibleTM)

Beyadenu, an organization of students and young people working for Jewish rights on the Temple Mount, announced that a record number of Jews ascended to the Temple Mount last month. Beyadenu trains and provides free guides for the site and thanks to their work, 6,102 Jews toured the Temple Mount. Two years ago a record 5,940 made Aliyah, while during the same time last year, only 1,718 visitors ascended. Beyadenu has a booth stationed directly outside the entrance gate to the Temple Mount.

Elishama Sandman, chairman of the Yeraeh organization, emphasized the optimistic import of the record number. “This was the beginning of the year and we can expect the rest of the year to only get better,” Sandman said. “This reflects how the nation of Israel is strengthening our connection to our holiest site despite all of the obstacles. This is the most important element that will bring the redemption.”

Beyadenu reported that the Israel Police were not adequately prepared for the thousands of Jews who ascended the Temple Mount during the holidays. Officers rushed groups through the tours and provided little time or space for ascenders to observe their surroundings, meditate, pray, or take in the lushness of their powerful surroundings. During our tours, police officers forcefully shoved ascenders who prayed, arrested four of our guests, and removed an entire Jewish group from the compound.

“The times that Jews are permitted, accessibility, and the security checks make it difficult however the conditions have also improved,” Sandman said. “The Moribiton and Moribitot who were paid by the Waqf to harass Jews have been entirely removed and even the Waqf guards no longer accompany the groups of the Jews at the site.” 

The announcement was made on Tuesday, a special day for the site. The day was the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, which was the 855th anniversary of the ascension to the Temple Mount by Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, the medieval rabbi whose works are still authoritative today. In 1166 CE, the Rambam made a pilgrimage to Israel from his home in Egypt.

“We left Acco for Jerusalem under perilous conditions. I entered into ‘the great and holy house’ [the term used to refer to the Holy Temple] and prayed there on the sixth day of the month of Cheshvan. And on the first day of the week, the ninth day of the month of Cheshvan, I left Jerusalem for Hebron to kiss the graves of my forefathers in the Cave of Machpela. And on that very day, I stood in the Cave and I prayed, praised be G-d for everything. And these two days, the sixth [when he prayed on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem] and the ninth of Mar-Heshvan I vowed to make as a special holiday and in which I will rejoice with prayer, food, and drink. May the Lord help me to keep my vows….”

It is poignant to note that the Rambam was permitted to pray at Judaism’s holiest site while it was under the rule of the Catholic Crusaders. In contrast, this week, an Israeli court ruled that Jews are forbidden to pray on the Temple Mount, even silently. 

“There was a period of time when Jews were permitted to pray,” Sandman said. “That was already a step forward that cannot be erased or forgotten by the Jews who prayed there. The police allowed Jews to pray silently, something that would have gotten a Jew arrested and barred from the Temple Mount not so long ago. I have high hopes Jewish prayer will once again be heard on the Temple Mount. As more Jews ascend, this will be inevitable.”