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Mock Passover Sacrifice Slammed by Pro-Animal Group

A study day by the Temple movement will include a demonstration of the Pesach sacrifice. An animal rights group calls it "illegal cruelty."
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 4/2/2008, 12:16 AM

Animal rights group "Tnoo Lachayot Lichyot" ("Let the Animals Live") is threatening to take legal action to prevent the Jewish Temple movement from carrying out an educational demonstration of the Pesach (Passover) sacrifice next week. The group's chairman, Attorney Reuven Ladiansky, sent a letter to Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski and to Temple Institute Director Yehuda Glick, urging them to cancel the planned event or face legal action. The group sees the planned sacrifice as an act of illegal cruelty to an animal.

Temple pilgrimage in ancient times.
The Temple Institute

The demonstration of the Paschal sacrifice is part of a study day scheduled to take place on Sunday, the First of Nissan (April 6), at the Kotel Yeshiva in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City. The study day is a joint project of the Temple Institute, the Sanhedrin and the King David Museum. It was originally planned to take place one week later, but the organizers decided to dedicate it to the memory of the eight yeshiva boys murdered in Jerusalem recently, and to hold it on the 30th day after their death.

The study day is to include a public sacrifice which is being termed a "general rehearsal" for the actual Pesach sacrifice on the Temple Mount, a ritual prescribed by the Torah but currently forbidden by the Israel government and courts.

Public sacrifices are allowed
Making the Paschal sacrifice is part of the religious freedom which is a basic human right and a cornerstone of democracy."

Glick told Ynet Monday that according to Jewish law, abstaining from performing the sacrifice is an extremely serious offense, comparable in its severity to avoiding a brit (circumcision ceremony) for one's newborn boy. He explained that although Jewish law forbids Jews in an impure state (which all Jews are in as long as the Temple rites are not renewed) from entering the Temple area, an exception is made for public sacrifices like the Pesach sacrifice. 

The Temple movement recently sent a formal request to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Minister of Public Security Avi Dichter, to allow them to conduct the sacrifice on the Temple Mount. "Making the Paschal sacrifice is part of the religious freedom which is a basic human right and a cornerstone of democracy," they wrote.

Glick said, however, that the organizers "have no intention of trying to ascend to the Mount without permission from the police."

'A substitute should be used'
According to the chairman of "Tnoo Lachayot Lichyot," the "demonstration sacrifice" would violate the Israeli law which makes it illegal to torture animals or to kill them in a cruel way. Any use of animals for educational purposes requires prior approval by the Council for Experiments on Animals. "Carrying out a 'general rehearsal' in which a live animal is sacrificed for demonstrational purposes only, while a substitute – like a model of a sheep – can be used, is unjustified and unnecessary," he claimed.

Another animal rights activist, Etti Altman, said the sacrifice has no place in an "enlightened countr
An animal rights activist said the sacrifice has no place in an "enlightened country" like Israel.
y" like Israel and quoted from the ancient Sifri biblical commentary which says: "As God is called 'compassionate,' so should you be compassionate."

The Temple movement has conducted several Paschal sacrifices in recent years. The ceremonies took place in front of the Temple Mount, on a hill which is called the Hill of Hananyah, and on the Mount of Olives. These sacrifices, however, bore a symbolic nature and were seen as memorials to the real Pesach sacrifice, because Biblical law stipulates that the Pesach sacrifice can only be performed on the Temple Mount.

Court cited 'Special feelings'
In Biblical times, pilgrims came to Jerusalem from all parts of the Land of Israel, each family bringing with it a lamb, which was sacrificed in the Temple. The family then took the lamb and roasted it according to the Bible's instructions, making sure it did not touch the oven or the ground during the roasting. Then each family sat together and ate the sacrifice.

In 2007, the Temple Mount Faithful and the Sanhedrin rabbis purchased a herd of sheep and petitioned the Supreme Court to allow a Pesach sacrifice to be offered on the Temple Mount. However, the government and legal advisors to the police asked the Supreme Court to reject the plea. The act of bringing a sacrifice could threaten the general public's safety, they said, citing the Muslim public's “special feelings” for the Temple Mount and the possibility of a violent outbreak.

Besides the planned Pesach sacrifice demonstration, next week's study day will include discussions regarding the possibility of using an electrical oven or a ceramic skewer for roasting the Pesach sacrifice.