The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, France is notable for its beauty in many respects including the remarkable stained glass windows and the flying buttresses which support the large structure. In April 2019, a fire destroyed the roof and much of the furniture, but the core elements of the building remained intact. Still, prayer services have been cancelled until repairs can be made.
Despite the centrality of this important church, church-goers made arrangements to pray elsewhere. The other houses of worship may not be ideal yet they serve the same basic function of prayer. The devout French do not line up for services outside the charred remains while waiting the day they can enter.
Only Jews do that.
The Jewish Temple which stood in the center of the Temple Mount was destroyed on the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av nearly 2,000 years ago. Still, Jews would ascend the mount to pray, as the very land was holy even without the Temple being present.
Around 1550, Ottoman leader Suleiman I made various structural improvements to the city of Jerusalem, including rebuilding the exterior city walls. While he made improvements to the Temple Mount which by then held the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, he pushed the Jews off of the Mount and set aside the supporting western wall of the Temple Mount as a designated area for the Jews to pray.
Jews have been praying at this retaining wall of the Temple Mount ever sense.
On this ninth day of Av, let us not forget that the Western Wall is simply a talisman, an object to rub to bring us luck, while the holiest spot for Jews remains only meters away but off-limits to Jewish prayer according to current laws. In a world afire with quests for social and racial justice, it is well past time to fight for religious justice for Jews to ascend and openly pray at their holiest location.
No Parisian would ever imagine praying at Notre Dame’s flying buttresses, and Jews must climb above the consolation wall to re-establish their basic human rights. #JewishTempleMountPrayers
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