Paul Calvert spoke with Steven Jaffe, the Grassroots and Advocacy Consultant, for the Board Of Deputies Of British Jews, the only democratically elected, cross-communal, representative body in the Jewish community.
Paul: What is the Temple Mount?
Steven: The best way I can answer that, is that yesterday in the Jewish calendar was a fast day called Tisha b’Av. It’s a commemoration of the destruction of the first and second temples of Jerusalem. Isn’t it amazing that 2000 years after the Roman destruction of the temple and two and a half thousand years after the Babylonian destruction of the temple, the Jewish people are still commemorating those tragedies as a fast day? The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is where we understand the temple was situated, the Holy of Holies. It is the central place of Judaism and the Western Wall, which many visit, Christians, Jews and others, is an outward retaining wall of that temple structure, which was on the Temple Mount.
Paul: Is this the holiest place in Israel for Jews?
Steven: I think for Jews around the world it is the holiest place. Wherever we pray, whether in London, New York, or in Singapore, we are turning towards Jerusalem and more particularly towards that Temple Mount. So yes it is absolutely central to the Jewish people, as it is in the Christian tradition as well. We read in the New Testament that Jesus was in the temple, so it is part of Jewish and Christian tradition, of the importance of Jerusalem as the place where the temple was located.