Temple Mount, Dome of the Rock, Har HaBeit (הר הבית), Haram al-Sharif, it goes by many names and has a deep history. Without going into too much detail this Dome of the Rock is the holiest site in Judaism. It is believed that at this spot all of creation took place from the creation stone.
The first and second Jewish Temples once stood there. Now stands there the Dome in the center, one of the oldest Islamic structures. And on the south side sits a mosque.
Now on the mount only Muslims are allowed to pray, which is cause for a lot of controversy in Israel.
I was unsure about visiting the mount, it is not a common or recommended thing for most Israelis or Jews to do. When entering through security I was listening to a tour guide prep his group before entering. He double checked several times, asking if anyone was Jewish, if anybody was carrying something religious that was not Muslim, no bibles, or kippas, no rosaries. He didn’t want any trouble with security or the police, he voiced that he had in the past.
My brother, who had a yarmulke in his pocket was asked to leave it with security.
As soon as we entered up onto the mount, we were greeted by two men asking me to follow them. Without any explanation I followed them to a man who was selling Keffiyehs. My dress only covered down until my ankles so I had to cover the rest.
Twenty-five shekels later:
I didn’t know what to expect up there but here are some pictures of what I saw:
There are designated hours for non-Muslims to visit the mount. We waited in line for one hour in the sun before entering. Promptly at 2:30 we were told that visiting time was over and were asked to leave. So out we went into the Arab Quarter, with all the colors and smells. Right outside the exit every shop was selling candy and gummies.
Going to Temple Mount was never on my itinerary, but I will say that I am glad to have had the experience and that it all went smoothly. Some days the situation isn’t so calm.
But I would say if you’re in Jerusalem you should get ahold of the time schedule for visiting the mount and prepare yourself to wait in line. It was beyond worth it to witness one of the holiest places in the world.