Jews raise millions to be ready for coming of the Messiah
The Sydney Morning Herald (Link) - Jason Koutsoukis (November 14, 2009)
Yehuda Glick is a 44-year-old American-born Jew who spends most of every day preparing for the arrival of the Messiah in Jerusalem.
Since he became the executive director of the Temple Institute, Mr. Glick's main task has been to supervise the manufacture of the utensils the high priests will need when the day arrives.
Crowns and other instruments made of solid gold fill glass cases in the Temple Institute museum in Jerusalem's Old City.
Other artifacts include an array of copper urns, trumpets made of silver and garments to be worn by the High Priest, woven from golden thread.
Musical instruments, including hand-made harps and lyres, lie ready to be brought to life upon the Messiah's appearance.
So, when can we expect this momentous event? ''That is a very good question,'' Mr. Glick told the Herald.
''All that we know is that we are now living in the age of miracles and all of those miracles are predicted in the Book as happening on the eve of the end of days. It could well be tomorrow, but it might be another 100 years, or even 400 years.''
We were in the Quarter Cafe in the Jewish sector of Jerusalem's Old City, high on an embankment that overlooks the most contested religious site on Earth.
Jews call it the Temple Mount, or Mount Moriah, and believe it to be the site of the Foundation Stone, the Holy of Holies from where God gathered the dust to create Adam.
Muslims call it Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary, and believe it to be the third-holiest site in Islam, from where the prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven.
To Jews the Temple Mount is also the site of the first temple built by King Solomon. After it was destroyed, a second temple was built about 500BC, and stood for 500 years before the Romans destroyed it. Their religion holds that a third temple will be built upon the arrival of the Messiah.
''That is why we have engaged two architects,'' Mr. Glick said. ''It will be a modern building, with car parks and elevators, but it will look very much like the Second Temple.''
The Temple Institute museum contains a large-scale model of what the Third Temple will look like, with its main building set to reach a height of 60 metres.
Today, the Temple Mount is dominated by the al-Aqsa Mosque and the gold-topped Dome of the Rock.
''Al-Aqsa can stay,'' Mr. Glick said, pointing to the mosque. ''It's not even on the Temple Mount proper. But we intend to just build over the Dome of the Rock. We might be able to find a way to include it in the Third Temple.''
Mr. Glick envisages a house of prayer open to all believers in the monotheistic faiths, Christians, Muslims or Jews.
The Temple Institute has become a fixture on American evangelical tours of Israel. Thanks largely to their donations, it has so far spent $US27 million ($29 million) on preparations.
''We started with $US100,'' Mr. Glick said. ''There are 70 million evangelical Christians around the world, and most of them have become Israel's strongest supporters.''
Ordinarily, Israel prevents Jews from visiting the Temple Mount. It so sensitive an area that when the then Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited, accompanied by hundreds of Israeli riot police, in 2000, it sparked a wave of violence that came to be known as the second intifada, or uprising.
''This 'Temple Institute' is a right-wing extremist movement interested in nothing more than provocation,'' said Khatem Abdel Kaber, the Palestinian Authority minister in charge of Jerusalem affairs. ''We will vigorously defend our right to manage this site. No amount of insulting behaviour from these people will succeed in removing us.''