JWR Schticks and groans

Jewish World Review August 3, 1999 / 21 Av, 5759

Planning the Third Temple

By Jordan Max

Mr. Elijah Prophet
c/o Messianic Era Developments Ltd.

Dear Mr. Prophet,

Thank you for submitting, or rather, announcing your proposal for a Third Temple, "Beis HaMikdash Shlishi", a large synagogue-type development in the Jerusalem municipality. We are pleased that you have selected our city for this project. We have conducted a preliminary assessment of your project's feasibility, and note the following issues which must be satisfactorily addressed for municipal approval prior to construction.

Econophone The proposed site, being the current Temple Mount, is zoned B-1 for a religious institution. However, we understand that you also plan to conduct "animal sacrifices" (further explanation is required) and hold a court of Jewish Law there as well. Our Religious Affairs department informs us that this is quite unusual for a synagogue, and this would have to be reviewed carefully. We note that City by-laws prohibit bringing farm animals into the city proper. Notwithstanding your claim that smoke will ascend directly upward, a noxious odor abatement plan will be required.

Moreover, we note that this site is not zoned for an abbatoir and open-air grill (we assume this is some type of restaurant), so a mixed-used designation would be required, which might require an amendment to the City's Master Plan. It may be more likely that Moshiach will come before the Master Plan can be amended. If, however you need a liquor license for the open air grill, that can be arranged in a much shorter timeframe. Alternative sites should be considered. Perhaps the Teddy Kollek Soccer Stadium can be retrofitted for your purposes.

Leiters Sukkah You had stated that your "Beis HaMikdash Shlishi" concept will accomodate millions of persons on the three major pilgrimage holidays, hundreds of thousands on Shabbat, and thousands on a daily basis. We are doubful that the space available will adequately handle these large crowds, and current fire code regulations for occupancy will have to be strictly followed. As well, adequate parking has not been addressed in the development plans. Use of this Temple will likely generate considerable traffic and congestion, even if public transit is assumed to be available. We note that the space under the Temple Mount may be suitable for underground parking, however, as with anywhere in Jerusalem, excavations frequently lead to archeological finds, which may preclude its use. As well, local residents may not be in favour of such a large development and traffic volume. We suggest that their input and agreement would be most helpful in the approval process. There are also day care centre, public washrooms, non-smoking area, lighting, signage and conscientious objector (the "apikoros" by-law) requirements which must be satisfied.

We would also need to know about any other possible alternative uses for this Temple, such as concession space, concerts, soccer matches, political demonstrations, etc., to investigate other planning and zoning requirements. The municipal Tourism Department has noted that the proposed facility is underused at night, and you might wish to consider adding a VIP lounge, catering hall for b'nei mitzvot/weddings, jacuzzi/hot tub, sushi bar, casino, discotheque or cinema. The single "menorah" you have mentioned would in our opinion provide insufficient lighting for nighttime use, and additional lighting sources should be considered.

Once these issues have been resolved, architectural plans and designs will have to be reviewed by our Urban Design Committee, comprised of local councillors who will review the height, density, artistic and asthetic design, and may require significant alterations. To date we have not received any specific model or drawings. Notwithstanding your claim that your client, G-d Himself will build the project, we would need to see the drawings and confirm his architect's, contractor's and sub-trades qualifications and licenses. The Ministries of Labour and Interior will need to review the immigration and work permits of all construction workers. This being Israel, we also anticipate that construction will take considerably longer than a day, as you maintain, therefore arrangements will have to be made for local disruption during construction.

A deposit of $50,000 (in U.S. funds) is also required.

While we respect your opinion that the establishment of the Third Temple is solely in your client's hands, our Legal Department has determined that the municipality has jurisdiction for development before, during and even after the Messianic Era. In the event that your client acts unilaterally, we will immediately seek an injunction through the courts. This should be avoided at all costs by adhering to the municipality's approval process, which is expected to take 4-5 years. Again, we thank you for considering building your project in Jerusalem and look forward to further discussions and refinements of this important project and tourist attraction.

The Planning Commission
City of Jerusalem

JWR contributor Jordan Max is a Toronto-based humorist and columnist for The Candian Jewish News. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


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©1999, Jordan Max