By Larry Gordon –
With the season of our rejoicing arriving on the coattails of the seriousness of Rosh Hashana and the solemnity of Yom Kippur, it may afford us the opportunity to explore the focal point of the seemingly gravity and the giddiness of our communal mindset.
As the Hebrew months of Elul and Tishrei arrive on our calendar our gaze and thought process turns upward and eastward. We look up to the heavens and beseech The One on high to look at us favorably and kindly because as we all know in our hearts, after all is said and done that is all we have and can truly depend on.
But there is a serious conundrum in our lives that we are conflicted about dealing with. And that is straight and to the point the Jewish community’s attitude and position when it comes to the place where our Bais Hamikdash stood in Jerusalem and where our prayers are directed and our faith dictates it will stand again, this time permanently in the era of Moshiach.
Aharon Pulver of the Israel Independence Fund believes that this uncertainty and dispassionate attitude about the Temple Mount is both unconscionable and unacceptable. He recently completed a visit to New York where he arranged the funding to organize a division of his group that will deliver hundreds of guests to visit Har HaBayis on a weekly basis.
“The Temple Mount is the central focus of all we do and pray for,” Pulver says but adds that it is just lip service being paid and not enough action is being taken. He is seeking to change that over the short term. He says that he has spoken with Members of Knesset as well as cabinet ministers in the Netanyahu government who are trying to downplay the issue and dissuade people from focusing on it.
One Knesset Member rhetorically asked Pulver, “Because ten Jews want to visit Har HaBayis you want to start World War III?” And that is the key issue here that the group plans to develop, that is the idea of incorporating Har HaBayis into the vernacular and dislodging it from being identified almost exclusively with what is characterized as extreme type behavior.
To that end the IIF commissioned a very extensive and broad survey of Jewish attitudes toward Israel’s holy sites with some telling and remarkable findings. Two of the most interesting findings in the survey conducted in the Spring was that 48% of Israeli’s identify themselves as non-religious with 25% saying that they are traditional Jews.
On the question as to what is the holiest site for the Jewish people, 60% said The Kotel was while 26% said it was the Temple Mount. 9% said they didn’t know, 2% said it was the Cave of the Patriarchs and 1% said Kever Rachel. When surveying only Jews who identified themselves as religiously observant the survey found that 54% believed that Har Habayis was the most sacred Jewish site with 38% saying that it was The Western Wall.
Asked how often they visit the Kotel, 54% of the religious Jews surveyed said they visit a few times a year while 33% said they visit once per year. As for how important Har Habayis is in Jewish life 78% of religious Jews said it was important while 45% of non-religious or traditional Jews also said that it was important. More in this weeks 5TJT being published this week on Monday night.