The battle for the shofar in Jerusalem

The battle for the shofar in Jerusalem

On Tuesday morning, the eve of Yom Kippur, Knesset Members Simcha Rothman, and Michal Waldiger arrived at the Eastern Wall of the Temple Mount to blow the shofar.

This is the second time in just over a week that MK Rothman has come to the site to blow the shofar. Police arrested three others for blowing the shofar at the site despite a court ruling that they have every right to do so. Rothman has avoided arrest due to his parliamentary immunity. 

Emanuel Brosh, a Temple Mount activist, was detained for the third time this month for blowing the shofar at the site but was released eight hours later.On Monday, the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court rejected for the fourth time police efforts to ban Brosh from the site. As a rebuke to the police, the judge also ordered the department to pay NIS 2,000 in legal costs for Brosh.

This comes as the culmination of an ongoing battle in which the police were preventing the blowing of the shofar in the area in a clear case of overreach.

The two members of Knesset released a statement:

“The police are abusing a law-abiding citizen and detaining an officer of the elite forces, whose only crime is being suspected of blowing a shofar in a public place, where there is no written law or prohibition against blowing the shofar,” the statement read. “Blowing the shofar on the path leading to the Gate of Mercy does not disturb the public order and does not bother anyone except the Israel Police who are conducting themselves in complete opposition to the court’s decision.”

“Those who are disturbing and causing trouble are only the police.”

“Unfortunately, the police selectively choose who to detain for questioning and who not to, while harming the free movement of citizens who wish to go to their holy place on the eve of Yom Kippur. By acting this way, the police not only break the law but repeatedly damage the public’s trust in them.

Tom Nisani, the head of the Temple Mount organization Beyadenu, reported:

“The right to blow the shofar both on the Temple Mount and at the Eastern wall of the Temple Mount is a civil right protected by Israeli law and an explicit Torah commandment,” Nisani said. “We will continue to fight for Jewish rights and freedom of worship in Jerusalem and on the Temple Mount.”

The story began last month when Rabbi Yehudah Glick was arrested for playing a recording of a shofar on his cellphone. Two weeks later, Rabbi Glick, Tom  Nisani, and Temple Mount activist Emanuel Brosh were detained by the Israeli police for blowing the shofar at the Eastern wall of the Temple Mount. The location is outside the walls of the ancient city. 

There is a Jewish custom to blow the shofar after morning prayer in the current month of Elul in order to wake the heart to repentance before Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. 

The three Temple Mount activists were interrogated by the police for several; hours and charged with disturbing the public and taken to the Shalom court (magistrate’s court) in Jerusalem. The court ruled on Monday that it is legally permitted to blow the shofar and perform religious rituals at the Eastern Wall of the Temple Mount without interference. Teh court  rejected the police’s claims. 

The judge ruled that Yehuda Glick, Tom Nisani, and Emanuel Brosh would be removed from the Old City and the Walls only until 6 AM on Tuesday. The police requested to remove them from the entirety of the Old City until October 19th and this request was rejected outright.

Rabbi Glick arrived at the location the next day to exercise his right to blow the shofar but was again detained by the police in clear violation of the court’s decision.

Israeli law mandates equality and freedom of religion, including on the Temple Mount. Though the Israeli police are required by law to protect Jewish rights to pray at their holiest site, the law allows the police to restrict this right for security considerations. Palestinians have carried out violent riots at the site in order to prevent religious equality. The police have capitulated to this violence. 


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