Court nixes Passover lamb sacrifice at Temple Mount*
By Nadav Shargai and Amiram Barkat
In their efforts to sacrifice a live animal at the Temple Mount, the New
Sanhedrin Council adopted an almost underground modus operandi. Rabbis
Adin Steinsaltz, Israel Ariel, Yishai Baved and their associates
secretly located a butcher, found a Cohen hailing from a lineage 1,000
years old and worked out a plan to quickly erect an alter on the Temple
They tried to revive the customs of the ancient Sanhedrin tribunal,
which was the highest judicial body for the Jewish people in Israel some
1,600 years ago. They sought to slaughter a sacrificial animal across
from the Western Wall.
The activists, who belong to various religious circles such as the
Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful Movement, also petitioned the
High Court of Justice for the right to perform the ritual.
Their plans were thwarted yesterday when the court rejected their
request, ruling that "the rights of the petitioners to practice their
faith are outweighed by other considerations such as public order and
Despite the ruling, the followers decided to hold a colorful procession
yesterday in Jerusalem, heading to the Western Wall along with two sheep.
The Temple Mount Move ent followers present were joined by partners from
the Temple Institute, which has for years prepared the traditional holy
tools and utensils for the Third Temple, according to Torah specifications.
The spectacular display did not, however, persuade authorities to allow
the participants to perform the practice.
Their petition to the court was by no means the first one. In recent
years, the High Court of Justice rejected several such petitions filed
by the Temple Mount Movement and other associations, dedicated to
erecting the Third Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The court
invariably cited the same reasons for its ruling.
In Passover 1991, dedicated believers decided it was time for action,
and tried to sacrifice a lamb in the premises. They were, however,
quickly stopped by police.
One of the most daring plans to perform the religious ritual at the holy
site belongs to the ultra right-wing religious movement Kach. Some 20
years ago, its members worked out an plan to infiltrate the Western Wall
Plaza at dusk with a lamb and foldable alter. The plan never
materialized, partly owing to the fact that Passover that year coincided
with the Muslim holiday of Ramadan.
Earlier and bolder still was the plan of the Temple Mount Movement to
hire a helicopter pilot to parachute a ready-made alter onto the Western
Wall Plaza. There, it would serve a group of followers on the ground,
sacrificial lamb in hand. As in previous cases, the plan never quite
took off the ground.