A prominent ultra-Orthodox newspaper on Thursday harshly criticized a Jewish wedding that took place furtively on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, an event that came to light on Wednesday, claiming the act was against Jewish law.
This is a “grave provocation and desecration of a holy site,” an article in Yated Ne’eman read.
The wedding “sparks serious fears of an escalation, especially ahead of the Passover holiday, when the security situation is especially sensitive,” the article went on.
The nuptials were announced on the Facebook page of the Temple Institute on Tuesday, in a post since deleted from the site. The institute said that a couple asked Rabbi Chaim Richman to marry them on the Temple Mount, the Jerusalem holy site that has been a flashpoint for conflict between Israelis and the Palestinians.
The institute, a nonprofit organization that describes itself as “dedicated to every aspect of the Biblical commandment to build the Holy Temple of God on Mount Moriah [the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem,” said that part of the wedding ceremony was conducted earlier at the organization’s headquarters, after which the wedding party, including two official witnesses as required by Jewish law, headed up to the Temple Mount.
Yated Ne’eman blasted the organization as one of several “bizarre groups that operate at the site” and accused it of promoting an act “with the aim of tricking Jews to ascent to the Temple Mount.”
The paper said the “unusual event” was “against halacha (Jewish law), against the opinions of the great rabbis and against the rules.”
According to the Temple Institute, the brief nuptials were recorded on video but, at the request of the couple, only two still shots were published. In one picture, the groom can be seen placing the ring on the bride’s finger and in the second she holds up her hand showing the ring. Both photos were edited to cover the faces of those taking part. Other than Richman, the institute did not identify those who were present.
In Jewish law, the Temple Mount is so holy that Jews have traditionally refrained from setting foot there due to ritual purity rules, congregating instead at the adjacent Western Wall, a retaining wall of the ancient temple complex, which has become the top holy spot for Jewish prayer. But during Passover and other holidays, some religiously observant Jews seek to visit the Mount in homage to the pilgrimages taken by Jews to the site in biblical times.
Under an agreement between the Israeli government and Islamic authorities at the site reached after Israel’s conquest of the Old City of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War, Jews are allowed to visit but not pray at the site, which is revered as the location of both ancient Jewish temples.
Jewish visitors suspected of violating the Temple Mount prayer ban are routinely arrested by police.
Clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli security forces erupted at the compound in September 2015 amid fears among Muslims that Israel was planning to change rules governing the site. Israel denied any such plans.
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