Day Six: “No Kissing and Embracing”
I never thought that I would one day visit the Temple Mount. For some reason [the reason is that the governments of Israel have previously acted in a discriminatory fashion] , I assumed it was out of bounds to Jews. But on our excursion day, it was one of the options, so I picked it.
...We proceeded to the Temple Mount. A mini crisis occurred at the entrance — women could not enter if they were dressed immodestly. After some negotiations between our guide and the Muslim guards, the women who needed more covering bought shawls from a merchant who — how convenient! — was located only a few yards away.
While this was going on, I noticed a sign that listed the rules that everyone must follow when entering this Muslim holy site. This was one of them:
“Intimate behavior such as kissing and embracing are strictly forbidden.”
We continued on our way, towards the third holiest site in Islam, which was built over the holiest site in Judaism, the Second Temple, which was destroyed in 70 A.D. Nothing impressed me more about the visit than the size of the place.
It’s as big as a small town.
I’m not kidding — the space can easily fit all the 40 shuls of Pico-Robertson, including all the big ones, and I’m sure a few more. It goes on forever. I overheard a guide say that 250,000 Muslims have gathered here at one time. What’s crazy is that millions of Jews during Biblical times also gathered here for their own pilgrimage [what's crazy about that?].
It was eery (sic!) [eerie] to stand so close to where the Holy of Holies once stood — it was like standing in the middle of the Parsha of the week. I couldn’t help thinking that right now in LA, I’d probably be at the Grove or the Beverly Center.
As we re-entered the Jewish quarter, I noticed another sign for rules and etiquette, just before we passed through the obligatory metal detector and security check. No rules here about kissing or embracing. Just this:
“For your own safety and that of the public, please cooperate and follow the direction given by the personnel at the site.”
Two people, two realities, one land.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
A Los Angelino Almost Gets Lost on the Temple Mount
From LA Jewish Journal columnist David Suissa's diary: