The rain returned as I stood on the Temple Mount today. Would you die to protect your mythology? We could see a day in which our children do not fight wars for our spiritual history; we could see a day in which no child need study war. Would you send your children to die for your mythology?
I stand now before G-d and say I would forsake it all for the thought of my children. I would lead and fight wars for them, bend my own morality in shapes to suit their needs, but I will not see them stand in line for guns. I will not see them lift swords, challenge nation; I will not allow it.
Today my head felt naked beneath my beanie. Israeli security asked us to surrender our religious items in the interest of maintaining the shred of peace we call “status quo.” Nobody is fooled: I am a Jew wearing a heavy beanie when it’s barely cold out. I agreed to give up part of my costume so that it wouldn’t look like I intended to pray where the Temple once stood.
Seven years. It has been seven years since I’ve left the house and stood beneath the sky without a kippah on my head. My beanie does not feel the same on my bald head as the tight crochet of a kippah, and today I felt such shame up there with my naked head.
As long as I don’t look Jewish, I guess. I almost cried as I handed over my kippah. Even the guards were ashamed of their collection of religious items, ashamed for asking us to hand over pieces of ourselves. And I have so little that makes me Jewish beyond my own soul—no family name that connotes Jewish roots, no long-lasting tradition, no stories of summer camp, no great legacy of Jewish scholars, no rabbis, no cantors. No Jewish birth. Hardly an acceptable Jewish pedigree short of allowing me to immigrate to Israel, but G-d forbid I should want the Jewish state to recognize me as one of its people as a Reform convert.
You take my kippah and who am I? Am I the text on my arm, Devorah’s song? Am I the song I can’t even sing here on the Temple Mount?
Here where Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son to build a mythology is where I doubt my own conviction. If Abraham is a hero for listening to G-d’s word, who am I for wishing to openly defy it? I want to stand here and lift my soul at the spot where Abraham failed G-d’s test. Yes, I believe he failed it. Perhaps our prohibition to pray here stems from the fact that if we were to right Abraham’s wrong—his willingness to sacrifice his child rather than to sacrifice his belief in G-d—we would undo Isaac’s binding.
But where would we be without our mythology? Do I want to untie Isaac’s hands?
The sun reflects off the glistening gold dome. Its reflection is confusing given the cloudy sky and intermittent drizzle. I look around me at the tourists smiling for photos before the Dome of the Rock. Are we raining or drying in the sun?