Above: the entrance to the complex
Haredim, Other Jews Try To Stop Christians From Praying At Purported Site Of The Last Supper
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Several hundred Jewish protestors – many of them Breslov hasidim – tried to stop a group of Greek Orthodox Christians from entering the complex just outside the Old City of Jerusalem on Mount Zion where Christians believe Jesus’ last supper was held, the Jerusalem Post reported. That site – controlled for generations by various Christian churches – is located in an ancient church building one floor above the purported tomb of Kind David.
Protestors blocked the entrance to the complex by holding a prayer service and study session there. They also screamed at the Christians and blew shofars (rams horns).
Police were reportedly able to get the Christian group past the Jewish protesters, inside and up to the Last Supper room where they were able to hold their own prayers as planned.
No arrests were made.
The religious status quo since the establishment of the state has allowed Christians to hold ceremonies, including prayer services, at the Last Supper room three times a year. One of those days is the Pentecost holiday, the Christian version of Shavuot, at a date determined by the calendar of the Orthodox Church – which this year is today, Sunday May 31.
Even so, hundreds of Jewish protesters – most haredi or right-wing Zionist Orthodox (a large number were reportedly Breslov hasidim) – gathered to stop the Christians for worshiping.
“[We’re here] to prevent the desecration of King David’s tomb by an idolatrous ceremony of the Greek Church,” Yehudah Puah, one of the protest organizers, told the Post.
Aryeh King, a member of Jerusalem’s city council, came to protest the Christians.
“We have gathered here to sanctify God’s name. The debasement of this holy place will not be allowed to take place,” King reportedly told the haredi news website Behadrei Haredim. (King reportedly hung up the phone on a Post reporter who called for comment.)
But on his Facebook page, King reportedly claimed the Christian prayer were a provocation.
“The Greek Church is seeking to offend the feelings of Jews and to hold an idolatrous ceremony on the grave of our king, King David. I canceled all my meetings and plans in order to take part in the mass prayer service and study session until this evil decree [of the Christian ceremony] is cancelled,” King reportedly wrote.
A brief video of the protest that begins just as the Christians are escorted into the building by police can be viewed here.
The building in question is part of the original Hagia Zion, a Byzantine church built in the 4th Century CE after the site came to be identified as the site of the Last Supper and as one of the earliest gathering spots for early Christians.
The first claim that the site is also the burial place of King David was not made until about 800 years later. Writing about 1173 CE, Jewish traveler Benjamin of Tudela claimed the purported tomb of King David had been discovered there during repairs to the church.
After the June 1967 Six Day War, most of the building was given by the state to the Diaspora Yeshiva – but with the conditions that the state would control the purported tomb and the Last Supper room above it, that Christian access to the Last Supper room would be maintained, and that Muslim access to the third floor mosque would be maintained.
Academic scholars and even many Orthodox and some haredi rabbis acknowledge that the purported tomb likely is not actually a tomb and that King David likely is not and was not buried there.