My Barber, My Book — and The Temple Mount

Could a Jersey Hairdresser Answer Question About Jerusalem?

Jerusalem: Ruchama King Feuerman needed to find out whether there are bathrooms on the Temple Mount for her book, ‘In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist.
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Jerusalem: Ruchama King Feuerman needed to find out whether there are bathrooms on the Temple Mount for her book, ‘In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist.

By Ruchama King Feuerman

Published November 03, 2013, issue of November 08, 2013.
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“Are you sure?” I asked, imagining legions of barefoot men kneeling and praying with bursting bladders.

“Absolutely sure,” he said. A place that holy, that sacred, would be defiled by a bathroom.

This was not good. If there were no bathrooms, I’d practically have to reimagine the book. I think it was the novelist John Gardner who once said that to change a character’s name midway is to make the very fictional ground shudder underneath the character’s feet. Well, this little “detail” would provoke an outright volcano!

Waleed had to be wrong. Maybe — the crazy thought flung through my head — Waleed suspected I had ulterior motives. Maybe he thought I wanted to wreak havoc on the Temple Mount and was searching for the best place, like the deranged Australian Christian who attempted to set fire to the Al-Aqsa mosque in 1969. But I dismissed that fear. Too paranoid.

I consulted with various guide books and websites devoted to the Temple Mount or the Noble Sanctuary or Haram Al-sharif, not caring which name it went by. None of them — not a single damn one — bothered to mention bathrooms on the Temple Mount.

I called up friends in Israel to see if they had any ideas. One of them connected tme to a Jewish policeman who guarded the entrance to the Temple Mount.

“Is there a bathroom up there? I don’t think so. Wait, now that you mention it,” he said in a thinking-out-loud voice over the phone, “whenever I’ve had to go, I would cross all the way to the other side, really far.” I tried to pin down where that “other side” really was, but the connection was bad and the line fell flat.

I didn’t care. The bathroom existed. Whew.

Next time my son’s hair needed cutting, I said slyly to Waleed, “Are you sure there’s no bathroom up there? I heard there was.”


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