Every year, Temple Mount activists dutifully stage a reenactment of the korban pesach (Passover sacrifice) offered in Jerusalem in the Temple era.
Striving for authenticity, participants (all of whom are kohanim, members of the priestly caste) don the white robes worn by their ancestors and sound silver trumpets in adherence to tradition. On Thursday evening, the event took place within the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City for the first time in 2,000 years.
A sheep was slaughtered in the main square of the Old City’s Jewish Quarter, near the Hurva Synagogue, accompanied by the recitation of psalms. The priestly benediction was then recited by the reenactors, who said they intended to conduct an actual sacrifice Monday in accordance with Jewish law, though whether they will actually be permitted to do so by police has yet to be determined.
According to Times of Israel, police allowed the reenactment to be held in the Old City after Davidson Park, an archaeological site near the Western Wall, was ruled off limits.
The right to conduct their reenactment has been an uphill battle for the activists, who have consistently been denied permission by the police and courts to stage the ritual on or near the Temple Mount, on the grounds that doing so could incite violence. A petition in 2007 by Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz and other leading rabbis and organizations was rejected by Israel’s Supreme Court, due to fears of inflaming tensions.
Such concerns are not unfounded, as the site, sacred to all three major monotheistic faiths, is also one of the most contentious holy places in Israel. Two border police officers were stabbed at the site last month by an assailant identified as Ibrahim Mattar, 25, who was killed by police after carrying out the attack.
The organizers of the reenactment appear to be undeterred. Their event, they say, is intended to “revive the colors, smells and sights that accompanied the Temple Service and that were lost to us throughout our long exile. It is meant to breathe new life into our current Passover celebrations.”
“With this reenactment, we hope to offer a peak into the authentic Jewish experience of Passover as it was worshiped in ancient times and as it is meant to be.”