The Chief Rabbinate published on Monday an open letter written on September 16 by Chief Rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef in which they call on authorities to prevent a Christian prayer service from being conducted at the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount.
Their letter was denounced by the Hiddush religious freedom lobbying group, which called on Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein to open an investigation into the chief rabbis for possible infractions of the Law of Freedom for Worship and Public Order.
The chief rabbis are referring to a prayer vigil to be held by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem – a pro-Israel Christian Evangelical organization – as part of its annual Feast of Tabernacles celebration, on October 15, which will be the seventh day of Succot.
The feast is a five-day event organized by the ICEJ for Christians to celebrate the Succot holiday in Israel, which in Jewish tradition was a time when non-Jews were invited to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and when 70 bulls were sacrificed for the 70 nations of the world during the Temple period.
In their letter, the chief rabbis claim that the prayer service being organized by the ICEJ is a joint service for Christians and Jews designed to “glorify the notion of the ‘Messiah’ according to the perspective of the Christians.
”An official with the ICEJ insisted, however, that the prayer vigil is in no way supposed to be a joint prayer session and is intended only for the Christian participants of the five-day celebration.
The official added that the ICEJ’s Feast of Tabernacles is designed to be a celebration for Christians but includes one event called Israeli Guest Night, on October 14, when Israelis are invited to an evening of cultural and musical performances at the new Jerusalem Payis Arena.
The ICEJ website for the Feast of Tabernacles said that the prayer vigil is to be devoted to “seeking the Lord together in prayer for our families, churches, and nations, as well as for Israel and the Middle East region.”