Rabbi Yehudah Glick, who was shot and seriously hurt outside Jerusalem’s Menachem Begin Heritage Center Wednesday night, has worked tirelessly in recent years to restore the right of Jews to worship on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount in preparation for the arrival of the messiah and the building of a third Holy Temple.
His activities, which rub up against Israeli police’s ban on Jewish and other non-Muslim prayer on the Temple Mount, have led to his being barred more than once from the site. In October 2013, he held a hunger strike, which ended after 12 days with the reinstatement of permission for him to ascend the Temple Mount.
While Glick maintained in an interview with the Forward last November that he is merely a professional tour guide taking visitors around the holy site, it was clear that his agenda includes more than sightseeing.
Glick, an American immigrant to Israel, is currently head of the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation, and he worked in the past as the executive director of the Temple Institute, an organization that prepares vessels and garments for a future Jewish temple.
In his work with the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation, he endeavors to raise Jewish consciousness about the centrality of the Temple Mount to Jewish tradition, and to encourage Jews to go up to the Temple Mount “according to halacha [Jewish law].”
Active on social media, Glick is the face of the organization. He regularly updates his hundreds of followers and supporters on his activities. Among his posts are snatches of videos showing him or other Jews surreptitiously reciting Jewish prayers or performing Jewish rituals while on the Temple Mount— acts forbidden by Israeli police.
“We do not by any means demonstrate or engage in any activity — political or otherwise — that would disrespect the place. Unfortunately, the Israeli police claim that any public prayer can be referred to as provocative. So, as law-abiding people, we pray in a way that is not noticeable by spectators,” he told the Forward.
Glick claimed he was banned from the Temple Mount in October 2013 because the police had made a video using secret cameras showing him, while guiding a tour group, reciting a prayer for the peace of the Land of Israel and for the success of the Israel Defense Forces, which is a criminal action on the Temple Mount.
Other videos posted by Glick on his personal Facebook page, as well as on that belonging to the Temple Mount Heritage Foundation, show Muslims responding unfavorably to his presence on the Temple Mount, chanting, protesting and even throwing objects at him.
Glick put the blame squarely on the Israeli government for restricting access for Jews to the Temple Mount, even calling this restriction “inhumane treatment to Jews… in sovereign Israeli territory.”
“While Israel’s Supreme Court has recognized the right of Jewish worship on the Temple Mount, it has left the implementation of those basic civil and religious rights to police discretion. This in turn has led to consistent civil rights violations in the name of short sighted self-serving expediencies,” he said.
Glick was shot as he left a conference about the Jewish presence on the Temple Mount at which he presented. His mobile phone rang as he was speaking and he said lightly, “I always keep my mobile phone on, in case I get the message that permission has been granted to build the Temple and I have to run.”
In last year’s interview, Glick said he believed the Temple Mount has the potential for being an international center for religious tolerance.
“Unfortunately, it has now been taken over by a religion that believes in promoting hate and inciting terror,” he said.