Jews ascend snowy Temple Mount for priestly blessing

“The white and festive atmosphere reminds us of the [Biblical] verse, ‘if your sins be like years, like snow may they whiten.'”

By World Israel News Staff

A group of Jews braved the frigid Jerusalem weather on Thursday morning and ascended the snow-covered Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, where they attended the Birkat Kohahim, the priestly blessing.

They were accompanied by Israeli police and security officers, who have near-total discretion as to whether or not to allow Jews to enter the compound.

Rabbi Shmuel Moreno praised the police for opening the site to Jews on Thursday, citing the special winter weather as a reason for the visit being particularly meaningful.

“The white and festive atmosphere reminds us of the [Biblical] verse, ‘if your sins be like years, like snow may they whiten,’” he said.

Hebrew-language news site Srugim reported that the police detained several Arabs who hurled stones and snowballs at the Jewish worshippers.

The police also provided medical aid to a Jewish man who fell ill at the site, likely due to the cold weather.

Advocates for Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount said that the Jewish group’s entry to the site was delayed due to the unusually high snowfall.

The group was told to wait for municipal tractors to clear a pedestrian path through the snow.

However, the NGO Beyadenu contradicted that series of events, telling World Israel News that the real reason for the delay was the police’s fear that they would not be able to manage Arab rioters at the site.

While the police cooperated with the Jewish group on Thursday, critics have long complained that security forces on the Temple Mount are not transparent about their decisions to bar specific Jews from the site or the reasoning behind blanket bans on Jews entering for indefinite periods of time.

Earlier in January, former Knesset member and right-wing activist Yehuda Glick was slapped with an indictment over an incident in which security forces alleged he “walked too slowly” during a visit to the Temple Mount.

According to Hebrew-language media, Glick has been banned from the holiest site in Judaism until further notice.

Also in January, the Beyadenu NGO filed a lawsuit against the Israel Police and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), charging that a female member of their organization was unlawfully strip-searched, intimidated, and harassed by the security organizations.