Why Did Chief Rabbinate Change Temple Mount Sign?

Sign warning against entrance to holiest site in Judaism changed to only ban entry for ritually unclean Jews; 'the revolution advances.'

Ido Ben-Porat, Ari Yashar ,

The Temple Mount sign
The Temple Mount sign
Temple Mount Heritage Foundation

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel changed the sign at the entrance to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, indicating a possible shift in the Rabbinate's positions towards supporting Jewish visits to the site which has seen widespread discrimination against Jews under de facto Jordanian Waqf (Islamic trust) rule.

The sign lists the rabbinical council's ruling forbidding visits to the Mount given the holiness of the site.

But the word "tamei," indicating a state of ritual uncleanliness, was added in the past several days to the sign in Hebrew, only forbidding Jews not in a state of ritual cleanliness and indicating a slight concession in the former stance. The English warning remains unchanged.

Yehuda Glick, a Temple Mount activist who late last year was shot repeatedly at point-blank range by an Arab terrorist and miraculously survived his critical wounds, spoke about the altered sign.

"We're in the middle of a revolution," said Glick, strongly welcoming the change. "Today we've advanced another millimeter in the process."

Partially explaining the change is the fact that Tzfat (Safed) chief rabbi Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Rabbi Nachum Rabinovich and Hevron - Kiryat Arba chief rabbi Rabbi Dov Lior wrote a letter to the chief rabbis a month ago asking to alter the sign.

Glick likewise recently met with Chief Ashkenazic Rabbi David Lau and Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern to push for a change in the sign.

There has been a debate over whether or not Jews can enter the holy site, with those arguing in favor of access noting that the location of the particularly holy areas which are forbidden to walk on is known, and that even the renowned halakhic (Jewish legal) expert Rambam in the Middle Ages himself visited the site.

The call for Jewish visits to the site has been given additional emphasis given that the Waqf has forbidden Jewish prayer at the site, destroying precious archaeological evidence testifying to the Jewish nature of the site, and enjoying control which some Jews argue constitutes a desecration of G-d's name.