Reading about the skirmishes and shootings at The Temple Mount is deeply upsetting to me. I remember visiting the Temple Mount twice during my year in Israel (2008-09). The first time, as I was waiting to go up the ramp by the Kotel (Western Wall), a couple secular Israeli soldiers gave me a hard time. One said that going up to the Temple Mount will make me tamei (ritually impure) to which I replied that I am already tamei (as are we all) for having entered a cemetery. Another chided me for going before the coming of Mashiach (The Messiah) but I was stubborn and went anyway. When I reached the top of the Mount, I was astonished to see how beautiful The Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa were from up close. While I could not enter these Muslim holy sites or pray on the Mount, I appreciated seeing the richness of all that was up there.
During my year in Israel I also went to numerous Christian holy sites with a roommate (tomb of the virgin Mary, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Gethsemane, The church of all nations right by the Mount of Olives) a number of which are in East Jerusalem. I enjoyed walking around and listening to Arabic music blasting from speakers. Certainly I took precautions (wearing a baseball cap over my kippah) but I was able to go see some amazing sites.
I worry about being able to see these sites in the future. My father was able to enter the mosques on the Temple Mount. I was able to see the mosques through ascending to the Temple Mount but not to enter them. Will my children be able to ascend to the Temple Mount at all? I hope it will be the case, but it remains to be seen. I pray for an end to this violence so that all people can worship wherever they choose in the Holy Land.