Last Thursday, exactly one year after their 13-year old daughter Hallel was brutally murdered in her home near Hebron, Amihai and Rina Ariel ascended the Temple Mount to conduct a ceremony in her memory.
A crowd of approximately 65 people gathered for the event, including Knesset Member Rabbi Yehudah Glick, Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel, and Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, head of The Temple Institute and a member of the nascent Sanhedrin.
Shortly after Hallel was killed by a Palestinian terrorist in her Kiryat Arba home, Amihai and Rina renamed the Mughrabi Gate, the only gate open for Jews to access the Temple Mount compound, requesting from the public to address it as “Hallel’s Gate” from that point forward. They reiterated that request before ascending last week.
“The Temple was always a part of our family life, and something that Hallel personally connected to,” Rina told Breaking Israel News. Displaying this connection, Rina is a loyal member of the Women for the Temple movement; each month a group from the organization ascends the Temple Mount in Hallel’s memory.
“When our personal house was destroyed, and we were forced to deal with tremendous pain, suffering and loss, we immediately realized that in order to go on living we had to keep active and not just mourn. The secret to geula (redemption) is action.”
Hallel’s family decided to channel their love for Hallel into rebuilding the House of Prayer for All Nations.
Amihai, Hallel’s father, grows grapes near Hebron, and said that he hopes one day to make wine for the Temple.
“The very next step in geula (redemption) is to simply go up to the Temple Mount, to walk up,” he told Breaking Israel News.
“The Temple Mount is the heart of the Jewish People and the heart of every single Jew. We have to understand that if our heart is not our own then we cannot live, and they have truly succeeded in killing us entirely.”
“You can pray anywhere, but to see God and to be seen is only there,” Amihai said. “When you love your wife and children, you express it by coming close to them, by looking at them up close, by going to where they are. The Temple Mount is the only place that a Jew can truly meet God.”
Amihai is a Kohen (a Jew of the priestly caste) and took the opportunity on Thursday to perform the priestly blessing at the precise location the Temple priests used to bless the Jewish people. Because it is forbidden for Jews to pray or recite blessings and Waqf (Muslim authority) guards were closely monitoring the group, Amihai did so under the guise of giving a lesson on the ritual.
“It dismays me that in this day and age, simply because I am a Jew, I cannot pray at our holiest site,” Amichai lamented. “There should be an awakening, an outcry from all the Jews. We are not seeing this, even now.”
The Ariels give talks to tourists and are in the process of building a visitor’s center in Kiryat Arba in memory of Hallel.