JONATHAN S. TOBIN The real implications of impeachment for American Jews and Why G-d Listens to Rachel By Lazer Gurkow and WATCH: Regular Jewish prayers being held daily on Temple Mount and Tel Aviv - Jerusalem railway to commence operations today in time for Chanukah tonight --Happy Chanukah
Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement
Hanukkah in Israel 2019
Hanukkah is a magical time to be in Israel with events across the country. Hanukkah in Israel is widely celebrated and while it isn't a holiday on which businesses close, schools are on holiday and families are out and about exploring the country and taking advantage of the many events taking place to celebrate the 'festival of light'. Hanukkah in 2019 begins on December 22 and continues for 8 nights, until December 30, 2019.
Throughout December – Holiday of Holidays. This event in Haifa offers festivities to celebrate the major festivals of its Jewish, Christian, and Muslim residents, in Hanukkah, Christmas, and Ramadan. Almost every day of the month, and especially at weekends, there are concerts, exhibitions, tours, shows, and conferences.
On December 22, 2019 – at Tel Aviv Independence Park, live music, a workshop for kids, and Menorah Lighting.
The annual Hanukkah Torch Relay marks the beginning of the holiday in Israel. People line the road from the city of Modi'in (outside Tel Aviv) to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, passing a burning torch from hand to hand. The torch then lights the giant hanukkiah (menorah) at the Western Wall. Modi'in is believed to have been the home of Hanukkah's heroes, the Maccabees, and the place where the Maccabean revolt began.
Get a true feel for the Hanukkah festival by going back in time. The holiday story is recreated every year at the Hasmonean Village in Shilat. Learn the story of the Maccabees, harvest olives, create mosaics and make wax candles.
The annual Ein Yael Oil Festival in Jerusalem also takes you back to ancient times. Make olive oil the old-fashioned way alongside different activities.
The Israel Nature and Parks Authority wants you to take a hike. Rangers lead storytelling hikes and offer environmentally oriented activities for kids, including making ecological hanukkiahs.
The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel always has a range of Hanukkah events on offer for the whole family. Guides lead groups through some of Israel's finest natural settings.
Hanukkah is the festival of oil, so where better to start than at the Museum of Edible Oil Production (2 Tuviya Street, Haifa Bay) in Haifa? In a country overflowing with museums of every size and nature, the holiday is a great time to pack the family and go get cultured. Almost every museum offers special holiday activities for the whole family.
A rabbi is on his deathbed, and a friend asks him if he has any last requests. The Rabbi asks his friend to find him a Catholic priest so that he might convert. Confused, his friend asks, "Rabbi, why? You have been a great teacher and leader of your followers, and you have led a good and honorable Jewish life. Why would you want to become a Catholic now, before you die?"He says, "Eh, better one of them than one of us."
During World War II, a sergeant stationed at Fort Benning gets a telephone call from a prejudiced woman."We would love it," she said, "if you could bring five of your soldiers over to our house for Thanksgiving dinner.""Certainly, ma'am," replied the sergeant."Oh... just make sure they aren't Jews, of course," said the woman."Will do," replied the sergeant. So, that Thanksgiving, while the woman is baking, the doorbell rings. She opens her door and, to her horror, five black soldiers are standing in front of her."Oh, my!" she exclaimed. "I'm afraid there's been a terrible mistake!""No ma'am," said one of the soldiers. "Sergeant Rosenbloom never makes mistakes!"
Berel falls into a lake, and, not knowing how to swim, he frantically screams, "Help, save me!" But his calls are totally ignored by all present, including a number of soldiers standing nearby. In desperation, Berel yells out, "Down with the czar!" At that moment, the soldiers immediately jump in, yank Berel out of the water, and haul him off to prison.
An altercation takes place at a royal reception at Buckingham Palace, between the Jewish philanthropist, Sir Moses Montefiore, and an unfriendly Russian Grand Duke. Shocked that a Jew should have been invited to an aristocratic gathering, the Grand Duke slyly remarks to Sir Moses Montefiore that he had just returned from Japan, and he had been intrigued to learn that in Japan, there were neither Jews nor pigs. Sir Moses calmly responds to the Grand Duke, "This is indeed quite interesting. Now, suppose you and I were to go to Japan, it would then have one of each!"
JONATHAN S. TOBIN The real implications of impeachment for American Jews
While some focus on anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, the problem is that hyperpartisanship is unraveling the bipartisan consensus on Jewish issues like anti-Semitism and Israel.
Whether you support or oppose the effort to impeach and remove President Donald Trump from office, there's little doubt that this historic battle is now dominating the American political landscape in a way so as to sideline every other issue or to turn them into impeachment sidebars. Unbelievably, that has also become true when it comes to concern over the rising tide of anti-Semitism that is sweeping across the globe.
Perhaps it was inevitable that conspiracy theorists would start spinning impeachment as a Jewish plot. But it was nonetheless jarring when a heretofore obscure website called Tru News began to air rants from a preacher who labeled impeachment a "Jew plot" to take down Trump. An extremist site called The Unz Review also published equally sinister claims about the role of Jews in impeachment.
This is familiar territory for those who have studied The Protocols of the Elders of Zion forgery that has been used by Jew-haters of every variety to justify conspiracy theories for more than a century. And it's also catnip for those who, for partisan reasons of their own, have concocted a narrative in which any act of anti-Semitism can be blamed on Trump.
Like all conspiracy theories, there is a kernel of truth in that there are a great many Jewish individuals playing key roles in the impeachment drama. But neither Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) or Jerold Nadler (D-N.Y.)—the chairs of key House committees behind the Democratic push—nor supporters of Trump's position, like Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz, did so as Jews or in defense of Jewish interests.
More importantly, neither Trump nor anyone else in the White House has ever blamed what Republicans not unreasonably believe is an effort to undo the results of the 2016 presidential election on the Jews. Like everything else that emanates from the fever swamps of the far-right and the far-left, anything that happens will always be fodder for their attempts to blame the Jews for everything.
And nothing Trump does to condemn and even prosecute acts of anti-Semitism or in his unprecedented level of support for the State of Israel will ever convince his partisan foes that he can't be held somehow responsible for crackpots who actually virulently oppose his stands on Jewish issues. This is why any time spent obsessing about whether impeachment will feed anti-Jewish conspiracy theorists is pointless. Those who highlight the roles of Jewish individuals to make impeachment a "Jewish story" are following the lead of extremists and creating far more heat than they are shedding light on events.
But if we are looking for a specific reason to lament the impact of impeachment, it's not because crackpots will use it to scapegoat Jews. Rather, it is the way it reflects the way the spirit of hyperpartisanship has worked its way into everything that happens in the American political process. That means that efforts to forge a bipartisan consensus on issues that are of paramount importance to Jews—like the fight against anti-Semitism and the defense of Israel—are being undermined.
Lip service is still being paid to the notion that both the fight against anti-Semitism and support for Israel issues on which there is a bipartisan consensus. And to a large extent that is still true. America is not Britain. Jew-hatred is confined to the margins of the political arena rather than having seized the leadership of one of the country's major parties. Even in a Democratic Party that is divided about Israel, the overwhelming majority of its representatives in Congress are still strong supporters with only the members of "the Squad," like Representatives Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), being open supporters of the anti-Semitic BDS movement.
The president has opened himself up to criticism by coarsening the tone of our discourse and by making statements that some have, whether reasonably or unreasonably, tried to call dog whistles to extremists. Yet the demonization of Trump has helped make anti-Semitism into a partisan issue. When even a supposedly reasonable person like former Vice President Joe Biden blames Trump for white-supremacist violence against Jews while ignoring violence against Jews from sources that cannot conceivably be linked to Trump, such as attacks on Chassidic Jews in Brooklyn, N.Y., or the Jersey City shooting, then the issue becomes a partisan talking point.
The president's commendable decision to follow legal opinions of past administrations and extend Title VI protections of the 1964 Civil Rights Act ought to have been applauded by both parties. But the same people who believe impeachment is necessary—no matter the excuse—because they think that Trump should never have been allowed to become president were willing to damn it with implausible arguments about it restricting free speech or even more improbably as proof of his sympathy for white-supremacist views about Jews.
The same is starting to also apply to discussions about Israel with avowedly pro-Israel Democrats opposing decisions they would have applauded had someone from their own party made them.
What's even more troubling is that those who think this kind of partisan wrangling will end the day Trump exits the White House whether in January 2021 or January 2025 are almost certainly wrong.
The tone of the impeachment debate is more evidence that politics has replaced the role that religion used to play in the lives of most Americans. The divide over Trump and the parties is now one that sweet reason and appeals to the better angels of our nation cannot bridge, and it is likely that the results of the next election—no matter who wins—will only make things worse.
The price of impeachment for the Jews is not wacky conspiracy theories, but a collapse of centrist consensus that can no longer be counted on. It was hyperpartisanship that made this fight inevitable, and it will do the same for equally bitter conflicts in the future.
Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of JNS—Jewish News Syndicate. Follow him on Twitter at: @jonathans_tobin.
Tel Aviv - Jerusalem railway to commence operations on December 21
More than a decade overdue, the railway will finally carry its first passengers.By EYTAN HALON
More than a decade overdue, the high-speed railway connecting Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is scheduled to carry its first passengers Saturday (December 21). While no official announcement has yet been made by Israel Railways, online schedules show the first direct train departing Tel Aviv's HaHagana Station at 9:56 p.m., arriving at Jerusalem Yitzhak Navon Station at 10:30 p.m.
The first direct train from Jerusalem will also leave at 9:56 p.m., arriving in Tel Aviv at 10:28 p.m.Trains traveling in both directions will stop at Ben-Gurion Airport. From December 22, trains will run every 30 minutes in both directions. While the electrified railway was originally due to open in 2008, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-transportation minister Israel Katz inaugurated the partially completed railway from Jerusalem to Ben-Gurion Airport in September 2018. The project, which has required the construction of nine bridges and five tunnels, is expected to cost a total of NIS 7 billion, more than double its original estimate.
Electrification work has commenced in recent weeks to connect Tel Aviv HaHaganah with the city's three other stations and end at Herzliya.
Why G-d Listens to Rachel By Lazer Gurkow
At the Grave of a Mother
I was standing in Bethlehem at the grave of the matriarch Rachel, our nation's mother. I was praying for myself, my family and our nation. I poured my heart out on this still sunny morning to a mother I had never met. Swept up in the inspiration of the moment, I visualized my mother looking at me and listening to me.
My son, who was barely two years old, was resting comfortably in his stroller beside me, when something stirred him out of sleep and he let out a long wail, "MOMMY!" I nearly jumped out of my skin as his cry penetrated my thoughts—and expressed them too. That was precisely what I had been thinking, Mommy, Mommy, your child has come to see you. Look out for me, listen to my prayers and intercede on my behalf before G‑d.
My son settled peacefully back to sleep, but my equilibrium was not so easily restored. All day, I couldn't shake the haunting image of a child, shaken from sleep, startled out of complacency, crying instinctively for his mother.
And I kept thinking about our mother's presence in Bethlehem, and how it demonstrates her absolute love and devotion.
On the Side of the Road
When Jacob was elderly and ill, he asked his son Joseph to bury him in Hebron in their ancestral plot. Jacob told Joseph that he was aware he was asking Joseph to do what he did not do for Joseph's mother, Rachel. When she passed away in Bethlehem, Jacob buried her along the side of the road rather than bringing her to Hebron, and here Jacob was asking Joseph to transport him from Egypt to Israel.
Jacob did not explain why he buried Rachel in Bethlehem, but the question asks itself. Since the burial plot housing Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, had space for only two more, why did Jacob not choose to be buried beside Rachel, his first and true love? Why did he choose Bethlehem?
A People in Chains
Jacob never answered that question, but our sages taught us something that sheds light on it.1 When the Babylonian army conquered Israel and destroyed the Temple, they transported many of the Jewish survivors to Babylon in chains. As they trudged along the road near Bethlehem, they stopped at Rachel's grave and prayed.
At that time, Rachel's soul appeared before the heavenly throne to pray for her children, but she found herself last in line. Ahead of her were Abraham, Isaac, Moses and her own husband, Jacob. Each begged G‑d to forgive the Jewish people, and G‑d turned them all down. If only you knew how grievous their sins were, G‑d told them, you would not ask me to forgive them.
Then it was Rachel's turn. Dear G‑d, she began. On my wedding night, I watched my father dress my sister in my wedding gown and hide her face behind my veil. I knew that my beloved Jacob would discover the ruse because he had anticipated it and arranged a secret code with me that only he and I knew. Jacob was my true and only love, as I was his. I knew that if he were deceived, he and I would suffer for the rest of our lives.
Yet, I could not allow my sister to be humiliated in public when the ruse would be found out. To protect my sister's dignity, I betrayed my beloved's confidence and shared the code with her. I stood by in agony as my sister married my beloved.2 The next morning, when Jacob discovered the ruse, it was too late. The deed had been done.
Although Jacob married me a week later, I spent the rest of my life playing second fiddle to my sister, who was always jealous of my special bond with Jacob. Yet I accepted my lot because it was the right thing to do. If I could give up my love for the sake of my sister, can't you set aside your anger for the sake of your children?
To which G‑d replied, Rachel, I have heard your cry, you may dry your tears. I will forgive your children, and they shall return to their land.
Indeed, 70 years later, Jews returned to Israel and rebuilt the Holy Temple.
A Mother's Vision
This tale provides insight into why Jacob buried Rachel in Bethlehem. If Jacob buried her there, it would have been with her consent. And if it was with her consent, it could only have been because she foresaw that her children would pass through this location in chains and would need a place to find solace.3 They would need a mother on whose shoulders to cry. They would need a matriarch who could secure a promise of redemption from G‑d.
Consider what this mother gave up so that she could become the one to intercede on behalf of her children. She had lost her husband in life. She was secondary to her sister her entire life. Now, she would give up her chance to be buried beside her husband in the afterlife. She would once again surrender her coveted spot to her sister, who would be buried beside Jacob in Hebron.
Rachel, lonely in life and in the afterlife, is utterly selfless and wholly devoted. In life, she set herself aside for her sister. In the afterlife, she set her interests aside for her children.
That is a true mother. That is why G‑d pays attention to her entreaties, and why I was so moved when my son awakened from sleep at the foot of Rachel's grave, giving voice to my internal cry.
A Mother In Israel
In Hebrew, each letter doubles as a number. When you add up the numeric value of Rachel, you get 238. When you add up the numeric value of Eretz Yisrael, Hebrew for "the Land of Israel," you get 832. Rachel is the inverse of Israel. When Rachel's life ended, she put herself in a position to secure her children's residence in Israel.
May our mother come through for us again and beseech G‑d for protection and blessing for our brethren in Israel and for our people throughout the world.4
But There is a G-d in Israel (excerpts) The analysis and proposed transfer of Arabs from Israel that I have set down are not personal views. They are certainly not political ones. This is the Jewish outlook, based on halakah the law as postulated in the Torah. The removal of all Arabs who refuse to accept the exclusive, unquestioned Jewish sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael is not only logical and normal for any Jew with a modicum of an instinct for self-preservation; it is also the Jewish halakic obligation. It is important that we know this in order to realize what true "Jewishness" really dictates and in order to instill in ourselves the faith and assurance that if we do this, all the nations in the world will be incapable of harming Israel.
The Jewish people are not merely one more nation. "Though I put an end to all the nations among whom thou art scattered, but I will never put an end to thee" (Jeremiah 30:11). Israel is indestructible. It is unique, it is holy, it is the Chosen of the L-rd; it has a reason for being. Its national uniqueness is built on an idea, on an ideology, that it alone has. The Jew is selected and obligated to be a religio-nation, commanded to obey the laws and follow the path of Torah. The covenant. The Jewish people took upon itself the yoke of the L-rd, acknowledging Him as G-d and observing His laws. The Almighty chose them as His unique people, pledging that they would be indestructible and would live in peace and prosperity in their own land, Eretz Yisrael.
The land was given as a reward, as a blessing. But it is more, much more, than that. The people of Israel have more than a right to the land; they have an obligation. "For you shall pass over the Jordan to go in to possess the Land which the L-rd your G-d gives you, and you shall possess it and dwell therein" (Deuteronomy 11:31).
A unique people given, uniquely, a particular land. Unlike all the other faiths that are not limited to one special country, the Jew is given a particular land and commanded to live there. And for a reason, as Moses explains: "Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the L-rd, my G-d, commanded me, that you shall do so in the Land whither you go to possess it. (Deuteronomy 4:5).
It is impossible to create a holy, unique people that dwells as a minority within lands that belong to others. The majority culture must infiltrate, influence, corrupt, woo, tempt, pervert. The Jew is commanded to create for himself a holy nation, and that can only be done free of others, separate, different, apart. That is why the unique nation, chosen for holiness and unique destiny, was given a land for itself: so that it might create a unique, holy society that would be a light unto the nations who would see its example and model.
And as the Torah clearly commanded: And you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you…But if you will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall come to pass that those which you let remain of them, shall be thorns in your eyes and thistles in your sides and shall torment you in the land wherein you dwell. And it shall be that I will do to you as I thought to do to them" (Numbers 3:52-56).
Far better than foolish humans did the Almighty understand the dangers inherent in allowing a people that believed the land belonged to it to be given free and unfettered residence, let along ownership, proprietorship, citizenship. What more natural thing than to ask to regain that it believed to be rightly its own land? And this over and above the need to create a unique and distinctly separate Torah culture that will shape the Jewish people into a holy nation. That "uniqueness" can be guaranteed only by the non-Jew's having no sovereignty, ownership, or citizenship in the state that could allow him to shape its destiny and character.
This is Torah. This is Jewishness. Not the dishonest pseudo "Judaism" chanted by the Liberal secularists who pick and choose what "Judaism" finds favor in their eyes and who reject what their own gentilized concepts find unacceptable. They weigh "Judaism" on the scales of their own intellectual arrogance – arrogance, incidentally, of intense ignorance.
And if this is not only the right of Jews but their obligation, what do we fear? Why do the Jews tremble and quake before the threat of the nations? Is there no longer a G-d in Israel? Have we lost our bearings that we do not understand the ordained historical role of the State of Israel, a role that ensures that it can never be destroyed and that no further exile from it is possible? Why is it that we do not comprehend that it is precisely our refusal to deal with the Arabs according to halakic obligation that will bring down on our heads terrible sufferings, whereas our courage in removing them will be one of the major factors in the hurrying of the final redemption?
What is wrong with us? Who blinded us and blocked from our memories the existence and power of the G-d of Israel? Did a Jewish people exist for 2,000 years without state, government, or army, wandering the earth interminably from land to land, suffering pogroms and Holocaust and surviving powerful empires that disappeared into history, just by coincidence? Did a Jewish people return to its land from the far corners of the earth to set up its own sovereign state – exactly as promised in the Bible – through mere natural means? What other nation ever did such a thing? Where are the Philistines of Goliath today? Where is imperial Rome with its Latin and its gods? Who defeats armies in six days, and on the seventh they rest?
Who if not an Israel because there is a G-d in it! The Land of Israel is His divine Land; the State of Israel is His divine hand. History is not a series of random events, disjointed and coincidental. There is a Creator, a Guide, a Hand that plans and directs. There is a scenario to history. The Jew has come home for the third and last time. "But the third shall be left therein" (Zechariah 13:8). The first redemption was that from Egypt; the second, the redemption of Ezra. The third will never end" (Tanhuma, Shoftim 9).
We live in the era of the footsteps of the Messiah, the beginning of the final redemption. The rise of the State of Israel from the ashes of Auschwitz marks the end of the night of black humiliation and agony, of Hillul Hashem, and the beginning of the dawn of the final, total redemption, of Kiddush Hashem, sanctification of G-d's name. The State of Israel is not a "political" creation. It is a religious one. No power could have prevented its birth and none can destroy it. It is the beginning of G-d's wrath, vengeance against the nations who ignored, disdained, and humiliated Him, who found Him irrelevant, who "knew Him not." But, it is only the beginning. How the final redemption will come, and when, depends on the Jews.
The exiles shall be ingathered only through "faith" (Mechilta, Exodus). If we have it, if we truly believe in the existence of the Creator and Guider of history, the G-d of Israel, we can bring the final redemption today. "When will the Messiah come? 'Today, as it is said: "Today, if you will hearken unto my voice'" (Psalms 95:7, Sanhedrin 98a).
The Arabs of Israel represent Hillul Hashem in its starkest form. Their rejection of Jewish sovereignty over the Land of Israel despite the covenant between the L-rd of Israel and the Jews constitutes a rejection of the sovereignty and kingship of the L-rd G-d of Israel. Their transfer from the Land of Israel thus becomes more than a political issue. It is a religious issue, a religious obligation, a commandment to erase Hillul Hashem. Far from fearing what the Gentile will do if we do such a thing, let the Jew tremble as he considers the anger of the Almighty if we do not.
Tragedy will be ours if we do not move the Arabs out. The great redemption can come immediately and magnificently if we do that which G-d demands. One of the great yardsticks of real Jewish faith in this time of momentous decision is our willingness to reject fear of man in favor of awe of G-d and remove the Arabs from Israel.
The world? The nations – united or otherwise? What do they matter before the omnipotence of the Almighty?
"Why do the nations rage…the Kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together, against the L-rd and against His anointed…He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh, the L-rd shall mock them…" (Psalms 2:1-4). The Jewish people and state cannot be destroyed. Their weapon is their G-d. That is reality
Let us remove the Arabs from Israel and bring the redemption.
Hebrew prayers are being recited daily on the Temple Mount with a quorum and with prayers said out loud, a revolution in the status quo at the holy site that has developed quietly over recent months in a sea-change from the prior blanket ban on non-Muslim prayer.A group of regular worshipers comprised of Temple Mount activists visits the site every day for morning and afternoon prayers, and are joined by other visitors to the site who wish to pray.
Only certain parts of the morning prayer service are said at the site, while the afternoon prayers are recited in a slightly abridged form.The prayer services are said discreetly and at a quickened, although not rushed, pace.The regular group of worshipers recite the majority of the morning prayer service outside of the Temple Mount since this service needs to be said while wearing a prayer shawl and tefillin, which is not currently possible at the site.But the repetition of the central "Amidah" (standing) section of Jewish prayer services is said out loud, along with other parts of the morning prayer service, taking about 15 minutes in total, according to Asaf Fried, a spokesman for an association of Temple Mount activist groups.On Mondays and Thursday, when the Torah is read, the relevant portion is chanted by an individual from memory. Latest articles from JpostTop articles1/5READ MOREDonald Trump to IAC: Some American Jews 'don't love Israel enough' Prayer books may not be brought up to the site, but worshipers use digital versions on their cellphones.The Hallel service said on Jewish holidays and the days marking the new moon is also recited by the prayer group.The prayer services take place with a quorum of at least 10 Jewish men at the eastern side of the Temple Mount in front of the eastern gate of the Dome of the Rock Muslim shrine.Until recently, police have prevented Jews and other non-Muslims from praying conspicuously on the Temple Mount out of a concern that such activity would stoke tensions and lead to violence from Muslim worshipers.In the past, the police would routinely eject or detain any non-Muslim seen to be praying at the holy site, and this stance was mostly backed by the courts, which ruled that although in theory Jewish prayer was legal on the Temple Mount the police were entitled to prevent it due to security considerations.But all this has changed in recent months.According to Elishama Sandman, a spokesman for the Yeraeh Temple Mount visitation advocacy group, the prayer services have been taking place at least since Passover this year.In August, Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that in his opinion "there is in an injustice in the status quo that has existed since '67," in reference to the general police prohibition on prayer at the Temple Mount."We need to work to change it so in the future, Jews with the help of God can pray at the Temple Mount," he continued, adding however that this should be brought about via "political agreements, and not by force."Sandman said that the new situation was very welcome in light of the many years in which Jewish prayer has been completely banned and during which the police would remove a person from the Temple Mount for even the slightest sign that they were praying."As we have seen the Jewish people are coming back en masse to the Temple Mount, we have gradually seen a change in the police attitude to those visitors, so these new changes are very much in the merit of the increase in Jews coming to the site," said Sandman.He said however that the various Temple Mount activist groups are "not satisfied" with the new situation, and hope eventually that the prayer services can be more organized, and that prayer will be possible with prayer shawls, tefillin, prayer books and a Torah scroll."The ultimate vision is of course that the Temple be rebuilt on the Temple Mount," he said.A police spokesman said in response to a request for comment that "There are no changes on the Temple Mount situation as regards to the status quo."Requests for comment from the Internal Security Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office were not immediately answered.Temple Mount activists have also recently embarked on a campaign to have the site opened for non-Muslim visitors on Shabbat.Non-Muslims are currently not able to visit the site on Fridays and Saturdays, although prior to the year 2000, visits on Saturdays were possible.Following Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount that year and the outbreak of the Second Intifada, the site was totally shut to non-Muslims. When it reopened in 2003, visits on Saturdays were not permitted.This is still the situation today, but a group of some 30 activists has for the past few weeks held prayers outside the Chain Gate, one of the entrances to the Temple Mount complex inside the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.The group includes women and children, and they walk to the Old City from various neighborhoods in Jerusalem, some an hour's walk away. Members recite the Mussaf Shabbat service outside the gate and then hold a kiddush, where they eat kugel, herring and cookies, says Akavia Lerner, 53.Lerner says that in the past, he used to go on long walks on Shabbat in Jerusalem, including going up to the Temple Mount, and says that there is no reason why Jews should not be allowed to pray at the site on Shabbat."Its not easy to go up to the Temple Mount during the working week. People are busy. So Shabbat is often the best time, yet it's not permitted," he said."How can it be that Jews can't go up on Shabbat to this place? Where is our sovereignty?" he asked.Lerner said that he and the other activists hoped that the greater demand there was for visits on Shabbat, and the more people who joined the prayer service outside of the Chain Gate, the more likely it would be that the Temple Mount would eventually be opened on Shabbat.
See you tomorrow bli neder, Happy Chanakuh tonight