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"Too Jewish" in Jerusalem

By Shalom Pollack
4/9/2014, 7:04 AM

I know it is not hard news, but it happened to me just yesterday.

I  carefully thought out my preparations  for  the  experience I  was  planning for my tourists on the Temple Mount.

 I went  to the Mikva (ritual immersion) early that morning. and  made sure to wear non leather shoes as  Halacha( Jewish law) instructs.

Then I prepared my back pack and  the contents of my pockets making sure there was nothing  that could incriminate me at the security check before  entering the site.  My Tzitzit (ritual fringes) were well tucked into my pants. I wore  a hat and hid my kippa in a secret compartment (I can't disclose where - who knows who might be reading this  article..).

As we approached the security check I was confident that I would pass by as easily as the other non Jewish visitors. I recognized Motti the Israeli police officer who has won a reputation for his keen sense of smell. He can detect a Jew a mile away. He looked me over and I thought I  passed when I was discovered.  All my fault. I forgot an obvious  thing!  I totally had forgotten about the small  prayer, composed by the late Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu on behalf of Jonathan Pollard. I was caught red handed!. He demanded to know if I knew what this is! I said "yes,a prayer for our brother Jonanthan Pollard". He frowned and declared  that it is forbidden material and was being confiscated . I could pick it up  later. I was warned not to pray or make  any trouble..

I asked my self how these Jews could allow themselves to be used as kapos - in the  very heart of  what is most holy to our people. How do they sleep at night? What do they tell their families when they come home from another days work ?

How shamed and shocked I felt, as the long line of visitors filed by.   I  was being  questioned  and threatened by Motti wondering  if they realized  that I just did not succeed in passing  for one of  them!

Fifteen minutes later I was allowed to join my rather shaken tourists on the Mount. But the best was yet to come.

As we proceeded, I heard a chanting din  coming from another part of the mountain. It sounded much like  the chanting of Arab rioters that I have heard  so often in the media.  

Coming towards me was an elderly bearded man dressed in  classic ultra Orthodox attire. He was accompanied by a few young boys - also not trying to hide their Jewish appearance but had the distinct look  of fear in their eyes after running the gauntlet of threats and taunts by an Arab crowd moments before..

I greeted him warmly  and he responded  as one greeting a stranger on a desert island. He  and his little group were shadowed by  two police men making sure that they do not move their lips in prayer and thus arouse the sensibilities and ire of the Arabs.( I wondered how the Arab boys playing soccer on the holy site did not upset their sensibilities...) Our meeting was immediately reported by the nervous police escort as the walkie talkies came alive.

After we parted and proceeded alone, I realized that we were being watched not only by the police but a  large group  of  "Arab youth" who had  marked us by our association with the bearded Jew.

It was now our turn. They dogged us with chants of "Allah hu Albar"! ( God is Great ) The yelling of their God's name  spurred them on to increasing taunts  threats and  bumping us.

The police were not there to stop this. Of course, they were not praying to  the God of Israel.

Once cleared of this threat , we proceeded alone. I was suddenly  ashamed of myself. The elderly Jewish man and children did not try to hide their identity or fool Motty at the gate. They under went  the humiliations as Jews not hiding in the shadows of a false identity - certainly not in Jerusalem, not on the holiest site in the world! 

I removed my hat  and placed my kippa on my head. I let my tzitsit out to fly  like a Jewish flag.

The response was not  long in coming. It was  interesting to watch the reaction of the Arab men, women and small children. The hate in their eyes. The curses on their lips and the spit out of their mouths.

My tourists were not Jewish. After this experience they said they were so very pleased to stand with the Jewish people in this clearest of choices to be  made. They felt they had the opportunity to stand with good vs evil on this day.

No, this was not  a news worthy item any more but for me and my tourists an unforgettable one