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Daily Israel Report

Safed Chief Rabbi Surprises Knesset C'tee with Temple Mount Call

Chief Rabbi of Tzfat Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu calls for Jews to be more protected on the Temple Mount, safeguarding of conversion process.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 8/15/2014, 9:09 AM

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu
Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu
Flash 90

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu asked the police to enhance both security and accessibility for the increasing numbers of Jews visiting the Temple Mount.

Rabbi Eliyahu first participated in a Knesset Interior Committee session on the topic of conversions to Judaism on Wednesday. He then made a surprise visit to a sub-committee meeting held later the same day. His goal was to encourage procedures to ease Jewish visits to Judaism's holiest site. 

Eldest son of the late saintly Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, the Chief Rabbi of Tzfat (Safed) called for an end to the "disgrace" on the Mount, and said that Jewish visitors must be protected more actively. "The number of Torah-observant visitors is increasing," the rabbi told the police representatives at the session, "and the questions I receive indicate that this rate will continue. I ask you: Please protect my children and my students!"

"Even at my own Sabbath table," Rabbi Eliyahu said with his characteristic twinkling smile, "there are dynamic discussions about whether to visit the holy site. Half of my children do so." 

He confirmed that his father, a former Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, has called for the construction of a synagogue on the Temple Mount.

Religious Jews often come under threat by Moslem crowds during their visits to the Mount. In addition, the police often restrict their visits, closing the site to Jews altogether for days at a time.

Earlier on Wednesday, Rabbi Eliyahu addressed the full Knesset Interior Committee regarding the current proposed bill to ease the process of converting to Judaism. He said that the Chief Rabbinate must remain the central player in everything having to do with conversion, and that if not, conversions in Israel are simply liable not to be trusted by the religious establishment.