There is a saying that Israel is the center of the world, Jerusalem the center of Israel, and the Temple Mount the center of Jerusalem. Looking at ancient maps this is not so difficult to comprehend, in many, Jerusalem lies as a fulcrum point between Asia, Africa and Europe. For hundreds of years multiple forces have contested over the region, coming and going. And for even longer, for nearly 2000 years Jews have prayed facing Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. It has been a central component to the Jewish faith, as the closing words of the Passover Seder state: “Next year in a rebuilt Jerusalem”. This refers not to the vibrant city that modern Jerusalem is, but a rebuilt temple. Except, like the land itself, there is a competing voice for the same territory.
In “35 Acres” we hear those voices. We follow a group of religious Jews as they ascend to the Temple Mount, where today lies the Dome of the Rock, a Muslim mosque. This in itself is a contentious act even within Judaism, as there are varying religious opinions as to whether Jews are allowed to tread on such holy ground. However this group is comprised of Jews who see it as their duty to continue Jewish presence on the mountain top. Except the Temple Mount is under the control of the Wakf, which sees any form of Jewish prayer, however symbolic, as a threat to its hegemony.
The situation is as complex as it sounds. There are no easy answers. It is like the above mentioned saying, these 35 acres of the Temple Mount, lying in the center of Jerusalem, in the center of the world, are the linchpin to everything.
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