Jewish Activists to Reenact Passover Sacrifice at Foot of Temple Mount

Activists who practice the annual sacrifice get closer to the site of the Temple every year, and long for the day when authorities will let them slaughter at the center of the site

The Passover sacrifice in Jerusalem in 2017
Emil Salman

Israeli police in Jerusalem green-lighted a religious ceremony which involves the slaughter of a Passover lamb only “tens of meters” from the site where the Temple once stood. Temple Mount activists carried out the sacrifice for more than ten years now, but never before had the ceremony taken place so close on the Temple Mount.

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In 2015 a ceremony was held in a schoolyard in the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood of west Jerusalem, about four kilometers from the Temple Mount. In 2016, the ceremony took place on the Mount of Olives, about 1.5 kilometers from the Temple Mount. Last year it was held in the plaza of the Hurva Synagogue in the Old City’s Jewish Quarter, some 400 meters from the Mount.

On Monday, the ceremony is scheduled to take place at the entrance to the Davidson Center, also known as “Jerusalem Archaeological Park” which is located next to the Western Wall tens of meters from the site of the original temple.

Last Sukkot, police approved holding the “water libation ceremony” at the Davidson park, but the event attracted a limited audience. This time, the Passover sacrifice is expected to draw hundreds in attendance. The high point will be the slaughtering of a goat, whose blood will be shed by priests at the foot of an altar and its flesh burned.

According to Temple Mount activists, the Passover sacrifice is one of the most important in the Torah. Monday’s sacrifice is however not supposed to replace the actual Passover sacrifice, which according to religious law can only be held on the Temple Mount on the eve of Passover.

While the tradition of holding a Passover sacrifice as close as possible to the Temple Mount has been organized underground for years, promoters now enjoy the support of religious and political personalities. These include Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Aryeh Stern, as well as prominent rabbis Yaakov Meidan, Dov Lior, Shmuel Eliyahu, Israel Ariel and Uri Sherki.

“The Temple Mount has been in our hands for 50 years now and we are trying to do everything to move ahead and perform the commandment of the Passover sacrifice in the place intended for it. All the temple exercises are a key branch in the activities of the temple organizations,” said a statement from the organizers.

“In the meantime, until the holding of the proper ceremony on the Temple Mount properly approved by authorities, the 10th of the [Hebrew month of] Nissan has become a day of celebration for thousands when each year the pre-Passover sacrifice exercise takes place. With longing, a call and a demand, as well as practical preparation for the moment the government allows the Passover sacrifice to be properly offered, on its right date and its right place on the Temple Mount,” the organizers concluded.