Record numbers of Jews have ascended the Temple Mount since a large group of religious-Zionist rabbis issued a public call to visit Judaism’s holiest site in accordance with Jewish legal strictures.

Exclusive Video Footage: Rabbis Ascend to Temple Mount

On Jerusalem Day, for the first time in recent history, multiple groups of 40 or more Jews were allowed to ascend the Temple Mount at once. In the past, groups were severely limited in size – and only one allowed on the mount at a time.

Two Jewish visitors were arrested Wednesday for belting out "Shma Yisrael" – the Jewish declaration of faith and G-d's Oneness of Deuteronomy 6:4. Unlike on previous occasions, the rest of the group was not penalized, and many returned the next day to visit as well.

The religious precautions required of one who wishes to ascend the Mount "in purity" include immersing in a mikveh (ritual bath), taking off one's shoes, and clarifying the precise areas forbidden for entry - or else going only with a guide who knows the area.

“There has been a marked increase in Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount since the large group of rabbis ascended,” the Movement for the Preparation of the Temple said in a statement. “The public is encouraged to study the relevant laws and familiarize themselves with their holiest place.” 

However, many rabbis in the religious-Zionist camp continue to rule out visits to the sacred site.  Former Chief Rabbi Avraham Shapira, the nonagenarian [in his 90's] dean of Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav, told the massive crowds who came to celebrate Jerusalem Day at the yeshiva that entry to the Mount is not permitted at this time, because of the lack of certainty as to the exact location of the Biblically-forbidden areas on the mount.

Former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu and Rabbi Shlomo Aviner are also among those who forbid Jewish entry to the Temple Mount. It is felt that the extreme nature of the Biblical prohibition against entering the site of the Temple outweighs both political/nationalist concerns and the confidence of those who claim they know the precise location of the forbidden areas.