Rabbi Meir Soloveichik’s tour of the Temple Mount was cut short this morning when violent rioting broke out at the holy site. It was the first time that the Temple Mount had been open to Jews since the beginning of the observance of Passover this year.
The riots forced Rabbi Meir Soloveichik and his family, who were accompanied by Temple Institute International Director Rabbi Chaim Richman, to leave the site within two minutes of ascending to the Mount. Two police officers were injured in the confrontation, and 24 arrests have been made.
The visit provided an opportunity for the influential American rabbi to join the struggle for Jewish prayer and presence on the Temple Mount and to hear about the preparations that The Temple Institute has actively made for the Third Holy Temple.
Rabbi Meir Yaakov Soloveichik is a world renowned American Torah scholar, teacher and leader. He is the son of Rabbi Eliyahu Soloveichik, grandson of the late Rabbi Ahron Soloveichik and the great nephew of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik – all of whom are credited for founding what has become the Modern Orthodoxy movement of Judaism.
After graduating from Yeshiva College in New York City, Soloveichik received his rabbinic ordination at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, and went on to receive a PhD in religion from Princeton University.
Aside from his teaching and writing, Rabbi Soloveichik proudly became the first Orthodox rabbi to give the invocation at the opening session of the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. He currently serves as rabbi of the Sephardic Congregation Shearith Israel in New York City, the oldest Jewish congregation in the United States. Rabbi Soloveichik was a rumored frontrunner to replace Jonathan Sacks as Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom.
“We are honored to welcome Rabbi Soloveichik,” said Rabbi Richman. “His visit to the Temple Mount this morning was both spiritual and emotional for all involved. Above all else, his visit sends a strong message to World Jewry that we cannot abandon our holiest site, emphasizing that visits to the Temple amount are not only Halakhically acceptable but are a halakhic imperative for all Jews.”
Rabbi Soloveichik was witness to the deteriorating security situation on the Temple Mount and saw, first-hand, Jews being ushered quickly and expelled from the holy site when Muslim rioters began throwing rocks. He expressed consternation at the desecration of the holy site.
“Under the current circumstances, even to go to the Temple Mount for two minutes was a tremendous privilege,” said Rabbi Soloveichik. “I am very much in favor of ascending the Temple Mount according to Halakha and after taking the appropriate halakhic precautions. It is critical for Jews to understand the importance of the Temple Mount. I applaud the increasing number of Orthodox rabbis and heads of yeshivot that are going to the holy site, and I predict we will see even more Jews ascending in the future.”
The Temple Institute is an educational, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the Biblical commandment of building a Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The Institute’s multi-disciplinary studies and outreach focus on the universal significance of the Holy Temple as a house of peace and prayer for all nations. Since its establishment 25 years ago, the Temple Institute has become the primary authority on all Temple related matters. The Institute has published tens of books, in multiple languages, including The Illustrated Encyclopedia of The Holy Temple in Jerusalem.