Wed, 22 June 2022
The Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem is the holiest physical site in all of Judaism. Religiously observant Jews ask God to restore the Temple and its services each and every day in the traditional liturgy. For thousands of years, Jews had no access to the site on which that Temple stood, until 1967, when Israeli forces reunited Jerusalem. Since then, Israel has by special arrangement ceded some forms of control of the Temple Mount to religious Muslim stewards supported by the government of Jordan. Under this arrangement, Jews may go up to the site—and many more have been doing so in recent years—but they are not allowed to pray there.
Why does Israel allow Muslims to pray on the Temple Mount, but not Jews? Why are more and more Jews venturing there? On this week’s podcast, the rabbi and professor Jeffrey Woolf surveys the history of the Temple Mount, and explains why, despite its roots in the very distant Jewish past, the site remains a fixture in the religious imagination of the Jewish people. In conversation with Mosaic’s editor Jonathan Silver, Woolf also explores some of the political dilemmas the site represents, both in domestic Israeli politics and in the Jewish state’s relations with its Muslim neighbors.
Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.