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"Tzadik Yesod Olam" - The Temple Mount and Israeli Religious-Nationalist Society

A talk by Sarina Chen, Nazarian Center Schusterman Postdoctoral Fellow

Thursday, March 14, 2013
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Bunche Hall
Room 10383
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Relgion, State & Society Lecture Series, co-sponsored by UCLA Center for the Study of Religion

Two weeks after the end of six days war (1967), the Israeli chief Rabbinate published an order and warning: "According to the Torah it is forbidden for any person to enter the area of the Temple Mount due to its sacredness!" This order had a long history in the Jewish Halachic world which related to the Temple Mount as a taboo, and forbade any physical contact with the holy place.  

Forty-five years later, the Temple Mount has become today a central location for the Religious-Nationalist (Dati Leumi) society in Israel. Many of the members of this group visit the site, and 40 Rabbis declared that it is a "Mitzva"(a religious order) to perform a pilgrimage to the place.  Every new month thousands of people circle the walls of the Temple Mount, and you can find the prayer books of the "Temple Institution," which glorify the Second Temple times and worship at almost every house.

How did this complete transformation happen?  Dr. Chen will show the way the Temple activists, over the years, shaped the role and the meaning of Temple Mount, in order to attract fans to their vision of building the third temple, by using the concept of the TZADDIK. The Temple activists' discourse refers to the Temple Mount as an equivalent entity to the character of the Tzaddik as it portrayed in the thirteen century Kabalistic writings and the 18th century Hasidic writings, while their rituals are designed according to the traditional and common pilgrimage to TZADDIK grave sites today.

About the Speaker

Dr. Chen is a cultural researcher who focuses on the ways traditional Jewish concepts and symbols are interpreted by modern Hebrew culture.  Her doctoral dissertation discussed the interpretation of the concept of "Temple" by current Jewish zealot groups, both political and religious, who intends to build the third temple (on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem). Her previous studies include works on the cultural dimension of Jerusalem in modern times, national-religious society in Israel, the idea of “Churban” (destruction) in Jewish thought and praxis, and women and Judaism in modern times.

Dr. Chen has taught at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Ben- Gurion University of the Negev, and as a visiting scholar at Northeastern University and a Posen Fellow at Tulane University.  This year at UCLA she is teaching courses on Modern Jerusalem and Modern Israel.  She holds a Ph.D. and MA in Philosophy (Jewish Studies), and a BA in Chinese Studies and Theatre from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


Pay-per-space parking is available in UCLA Structure 3, near the corner of Hilgard and Wyton (turn right onto Wyton and follow the street until you see signs for Lot 3 Pay-per-space). 


How to Park at UCLA

Cost: Free and open to the public


Sponsor(s): Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies

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