Temple Mount
Temple MountIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Veteran Israeli educator and Education Prize awardee Sarah Eliash was arrested this week on the Temple Mount on charges of praying at the site, activists in organizations advocating open Jewish prayer at the site said.

Eliash ascended the site Thursday with a group that came to the Mount to view the site where the miracle of Hanukkah actually took place, and apparently was seen by Arab guards moving her lips, which they attributed to praying. The guards informed Israeli police, who took Eliash into custody for her “crime.”

Members of the group reported that they had great difficulty in ascending the mount, activists said. Arab groups heckled and ridiculed them, and raised the level of tension among members of the group, as well as police, who were on tight alert for potential disturbances. After the Arabs complained, members of the group said, police quickly removed them from the site, saying that they did not have enough manpower to protect the group.

It should be noted that the group that Eliash accompanied consisted of adults, many of them advanced in age. Eliash herself is 62. She is a member of the Judea and Samaria Regional Council and was its vice president. She is best known for establishing and for decades running the Lehava school for girls in Kedumim, which has about 800 students, as well as a program that houses and educates over 100 girls who recently immigrated from Ethiopia. She recently created a program that uses Torah sources to enrich the lives of married couples and just last week received a national prize for the best religious school educ ator.

Eliash was released shortly after he arrest, but activists demanded that her arrest be expunged altogether. In addition, they demanded that the government arrange for official prayer times on areas of the Mount permissible to Jews, similar to the arrangements made at the Machpelah Cave in Hevron. “It is unacceptable that Jews will not be able to visit and celebrate at the site where the Hanukkah miracle actually took place,” the groups said.