Pressure from the Chief Rabbinate and the Derech Emuna Rabbinic organization has succeeded in causing police to cancel an evangelical Christian prayer service, that was planned for Wednesday at the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount, near the Hulda Gate.
International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) organized the prayer vigil for the "restoration" of Jesus and called on Christian attendees to invite as many Jews as possible to a prior interfaith event.
Aside from being a breach of halakha (Jewish law) as interfaith worship, the vigil particularly rankled as it was scheduled for the morning of Hoshana Raba, the last day of the Sukkot holiday, and would have been the first time such a service was held at the holy site since the liberation of the Old City in the 1967 Six Day War.
Derech Emuna rabbis praised the cancellation, saying in a statement "we thank the many rabbis who took action on the issue, and the government of Israel that paid attention to preserving the Jewish character of the Old City."
According to the rabbis, if left unchecked the evangelical interfaith prayer service would have turned into an annual tradition attended by thousands of Christian pilgrims to the Southern Wall, and would have further spread the control of the Church in the Old City.
"The open prayer was supposed to deal with the resurrection of 'that man' (Jesus - ed.), as part of a process of bringing Christianity back into the Holy Land. The matter is most severe, and we must thank G-d that the public prayers on the border of the Temple Mount were cancelled," said the organization.
Clarifying its stance, Derech Emunah added "as we have written in the past, non-Jews are all welcome to pray in Jerusalem and at the Kotel (Western Wall) to the G-d of Israel, but not as a Christian union trying to gain control of these sites and leading astray hearts in Israel after idol worship," a status Christianity holds in Jewish law for its belief that G-d was contained in a corporeal form.
Derech Emuna also addressed the King David's Tomb Compound - in early July in a Knesset Interior Committee meeting it was revealed that Christians received permission to hold fixed prayers in the Compound in a secret deal, breaching the status quo of the site and endangering Jewish prayer rights.
"The struggle against the Church that seeks to established idol worship in David's Tomb and Mount Zion will continue full force, and as with their plan to gain a foothold on the Mount of G-d's Temple, so too they won't succeed in their desires to control other new sites in the Old City," pledged the group.
The institution of regular Christian prayers at David's Tomb has been raised by rabbis as a move changing the Compound's status, and one that could prevent Jews from entering the holy site altogether, given that Jewish law forbids entering a Church.