The last decade witnessed a dramatic shift in the attitude of secular and religious Zionism toward the Temple Mount. For many, including high-ranking Israeli politicians, it now functions as a national symbol of sovereignty, while for Jewish religious extremists it has become the object of messianic yearnings. Historical Zionism, however, displayed a complicated relationship with the Temple Mount, at times rejecting it as an object of interest. We will analyze past and present dispositions, studying the site's rise as a focal point for ethno-national yearnings.
Dr. Tomer Persico is the Koret Visiting Assistant Professor at the Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies, the Shalom Hartman Institute Bay Area Scholar in Residence, and a Senior Research Scholar at UC Berkeleys CMES. Persico's fields of study are contemporary spirituality, Jewish modern identity, Jewish renewal, and forms of secularization and religiosity in Israel. He has taught at the Department for Comparative Religion in Tel Aviv University for eight years. His first book, The Jewish Meditative Tradition (Hebrew), was published by Tel Aviv University Press, and his second book, examining the way the idea of the Image of God influenced Modern Western civilization, will be published this winter in Hebrew by Yedioth books. Persico is an activist for freedom of religion in Israel, writes the most popular blog in Hebrew on religion, and has written hundreds of articles on these subjects for popular media.