A daring secret Jewish wedding ceremony has been performed on the Temple Mount right under the noses of the Israeli police and Jordanian Waqf guards, said the Temple Institute, an organization committed to preparing for the Third Temple, on Tuesday evening.
The ceremony, which the Temple Institute described in a Facebook post that has since been removed (a cached version is still available), was only the second such ceremony to take place on the Temple Mount in over 2000 years, said the Institute.
The Temple Mount in Jerusalem was home to the two Holy Temples which stood on the site in Biblical times. It served as the center of religious and spiritual life for the people of Israel, who made yearly pilgrimages to the Temple to offer sacrifices to God through the priestly class (kohanim). Today, it is the site of violence and controversy as Muslims attack Jewish or Christian visitors who attempt to ascend, and non-Muslims are forbidden from any semblance of prayer or religious observance for fear of provoking angry Arabs.
Rules against any religious activity on the Mount have been declared illegal by Israel’s courts, but they continue to be enforced by the Israeli police and Jordanian guards who are in charge of security at the holy site. Visitors are closely watched, followed and monitored for any kind of religious activity.
In recent months, Jews have been arrested and banned from the Temple Mount for such things as uttering pro-Israel sentiments, saying blessings over food and drink, bowing, and closing their eyes – making the Temple Institute’s recent announcement of a Jewish Temple Mount wedding all the more surprising.
The story began when an intrepid engaged couple approached Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute and asked if he would supervise their wedding ceremony on the Temple Mount, the Institute’s Facebook post reported. After examining issues related to Jewish law (halacha) and discussing the matter with other rabbinical authorities, Rabbi Richman agreed to perform the marriage.
On the morning of the wedding, the couple met Rabbi Richman at the headquarters of the Temple Institute, located in Jerusalem’s Old City, to perform the prerequisite blessing over wine which precedes the marriage ceremony. The group then met with two witnesses, appointed by the couple, at the entrance to the Temple Mount, and they ascended together.
For the marriage ceremony to be valid, both witnesses would have to hear the declaration of marriage (kiddushin) from the groom and see him place a gold wedding band on the bride’s finger. Rabbi Richman warned the wedding party that this had to be done without attracting the attention of the Israel police or Waqf guards who were escorting the group, or else the entire party would almost certainly be arrested and removed from the Mount.
Incredibly, the plan succeeded. As the group walked the eastern perimeter of the Mount, the witnesses drew close to the groom, who produced the ring and whispered the words of the kiddushin to the bride in Hebrew: “Behold, you are sanctified to me with this ring, in accordance with the law of Moses and Israel.” He slipped the ring onto the bride’s finger. Later in a different location, the couple stood beneath the traditional chuppah and heard the reading of the marriage contract, called a ketubah.
While the couple asked not to be identified by name or photo, the Temple Institute released two edited pictures showing the groom placing the ring on the bride’s finger, and the bride holding up her hand to show the ring.
“It was a great blessing for this couple to begin their new life together at the holiest place on earth for the people of Israel, the location of the Holy Temple,” the Facebook post read. “This was a great achievement, in the face of the extreme anti-Jewish discrimination of the Muslim Waqf and the Israel Police which quashes all Jewish expression at the sacred site.”
The post noted that the ancient tradition of brides and grooms visiting the Temple Mount – separately – on the day of their wedding to pray has been revived in recent times, but the actual performance of a marriage ceremony is a “unique act in history”.
The Temple Institute concluded, “We salute the couple for their bold and courageous act of dedication to the God of Israel in the place of the Holy Temple, and wish them Mazal Tov – good luck – and may God be with them!”