Rabbi Chaim Richman
Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount are all too familiar with the ‘welcoming committee’ that greets them every time they ascend to the holy site: groups of hostile Muslim men and women who taunt them, verbally abuse them, and in a pattern that has become all too frequent, they stalk, push, and at times physically attack the Jews. Police do not stop the actions of these agitators, and when the threats of violence turn dangerous, the police simply revert to the policy of punishing the victims, and close the site to Jews. The Muslim antagonists are rarely arrested or even detained.
Several months ago it was revealed that these groups are actually on salary. They are paid to harass Jews with funds that are provided by Hamas and channeled through Sheikh Raed Salah’s Islamic Resistance Movement’s northern branch.
As if these antics, and the irony of these Hamas-funded squads lying in wait to attack Jews in Judaism’s holiest site was not enough, the Israeli press reported that Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount were shocked recently to discover that the chairs upon which these groups sit are actually stolen from the Western Wall… where they had been donated in memory of victims of Palestinian terror.
The photograph accompanying this article displays one such chair, with the donation sticker, commemorating two individuals who were murdered in a terror attack, clearly legible. It reads: “Donated for the elevation of the souls of Rabbi Dr. David Yaakov HaLevi Applebaum and his daughter Nava, who were murdered in Jerusalem on 13 Elul, 5763 (Sep. 9 2003).
For those too young – or too traumatized – to remember, Dr. Applebaum was an American-born Israeli physician and rabbi, the chief of the emergency room and trauma services at Jerusalem’s Shaare Tzedek Hospital, and his great dedication, compassion and professionalism became an institution: he founded the chain of Terem emergency care centers. The British Medical Journal noted that Applebaum trained both Arab and Jewish physicians and nurses for his system of urgent care centers so that there would be staffing on the holy days of both religions.
David and Nava Applebaum were murdered in the Café Hillel bombing. They had gone out that evening for some private father/daughter time together – it was the night before Nava’s wedding. Her white wedding dress was used to make a curtain for the ark that holds the Torah scrolls at Rachel’s Tomb.
The Jewish visitors to the Mount demanded from the police that they be allowed to take the chairs and return them to the Western Wall Plaza, but the police prevented them from doing this, promising instead that they would deal with it.
Talk about adding insult to injury – or to apply an apt Biblical phrase, “Will you murder and also inherit?” (Kings I 21:19).
Dr. Applebaum was a much-beloved part of the very fabric of Jerusalem. Having myself made Aliya over 30 years ago, his comforting style and assurance in the emergency room were a welcome, soothing and integral part of our experience of raising young children in Jerusalem. He also loved the Holy Temple and never failed to encourage me in my work at the Temple Institute. I can’t remember how many times I came to his emergency room when my children were small, and as he checked the child’s breathing, examined the ear or discussed the x-ray, he would ask ‘how is the work going on the Holy Temple? When are we building it?’
Alas, on the Temple Mount, somebody is sitting in David and Nava Applebaum’s chair.