While there may not be a Third Temple at which Israeli Jews can worship atop the Jerusalem Temple Mount, there is a brand-new synagogue under the foundation of the holy site – and it’s open for prayer.
The new center of worship is the result of 12 years of construction at a cost of $50 million, and it is located directly under the Western Wall, where Jews have gathered for centuries to pray at the retaining wall for the Temple Mount.
“The unique design of the prayer hall combines rare art and unique lighting, creating a wonderful contrast between ancient and modern,” said a statement by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation.
In a related development, Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev has suggested the government allocate another $50 million to explore the foundations Temple beneath Muslim Al-Aqsa Mosque.
In the new synagogue, the bimah, or altar, and seating are made of wood. The synagogue features dozens of elegant benches, arranged in separate men’s and women’s sections.
The Torah ark is adorned with metalwork letters that incorporate the biblical verses of the “Shema Yisrael” prayer.
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation is scheduled to establish and publish regulations regarding prayer in the new synagogue.
The project has been funded by the Delek Science, Education and Culture Foundation, with additional private support from Delek Group owner Yitzhak Tshuva and his family. The facility was dedicated following a traditional Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony in the Western Wall plaza.