Holy Sites in Jerusalem Re-Opened

Last Friday three Arab Israelis opened fire from a sacred site in Jerusalem which is called Noble (Haram Al Sharif) Sanctuary for Muslims and Temple Mount for Jews. Using automatic weapons the three Arab Israelis killed two police officers and were later shot dead inside the compound. The Holy Sites were re-opened today with stricter security checks.

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The Arab-Israeli conflict is only studied a little in British schools as the focus is on modern wars such as World War I and World War II. We take an initial look at the subject in Religious Studies when studying about pilgrimages and how Jerusalem is contested and valued by Muslims, Jews and Christians. A short BBC video explains the importance of Haram Al Sharif and Temple Mount, and there is a BBC Pictures special about the holy sites, explaining how through modern history there has been unrest over who the site belongs to. The history of the sites brings you closer to understanding both faiths, with important stories for Jews such as Abraham almost sacrificing his son Isaac there, and Temple Mount being where people will receive redemption when the Messiah arrives. Compared to Muslim stories of Muhammad PBUH  having his Night Journey from Makkah to Jerusalem to hear in heaven from Allah about prayer (salah, one of the five pillar of Islam).

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Ultra-orthodox Jewish Newspapers Won’t Publish Photos of Women

It’s hard to believe that in 2016 when gender equality has been celebrated and supported in the West since the 1970s that some religious groups still have a problem with female imagery. Ultra-orthodox Jewish newspapers which won’t publics photographs of women are currently struggling to cover the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton and one does wonder how they’re going to cope if she make it to US President in November!

In Britain the last four decades have witnessed an enormous religious renaissance of orthodox Judaism with several organisations like Lubavitch, Aish, The Jewish Learning Exchange (JLE) and Project SEED spearheading the change. Aish runs packed weekly lectures in its centres in North London and annually takes up to 500 young people for three week study programmes to Israel, Australia or New York. They recently had the success of their programmes endorsed by MORI which reported, ‘Of those participants who have married or have become engaged since participating in the program, 97% have chosen a Jewish partner. Of those who remain single, 92% are committed to marrying someone Jewish who shares a commitment to Judaism and the Jewish people.’

Being an orthodox Jew is difficult if you are gay, as homosexuality is not seen as acceptable. A BBC article about being a gay Orthodox Jew describes the difficulty a woman faced living in a society which wouldn’t accept her.