In ancient Israel and Judea, the Sanhedrin served as the highest court in the land, and was made up of 71 top judges. Now, a group of fringe rabbis say they have reformed the group, although the organization has received no recognition from Israel's official religious authorities.
"In the Torah there are around 200 commandments dealing with animal sacrifices," said Rabbi Dov Stein, of the Sanhedrin organization. "The Torah of Israel demands animal sacrifices. When the people of Israel were in the Diaspora, it couldn’t be done. But now, there is the supreme institution, the Sanhedrin, made up of experts, and it can be done. The new Sanhedrin, like the old, will educate the people of Israel on how to keep and safeguard the Torah."
'Democracy was not invented today'
Stein vowed that "we will try to carry out animal sacrifices on the Temple Mount this Passover, as commanded by the Torah."
Asked if his organization sought to rebuild the third Temple, Stein's answer was unequivocal. "We want to establish the Temple again. Unfortunately, standing in our way is a hostile regime, the Israeli government, and rabbis who for political interest don't want this to happen."
Stein even suggested that Muslims would agree to the project, saying: "The Omar Mosque (the Dome of the Rock), built by Khalif Omar, was actually intended to safeguard the site for the Jews. Islam hasn't always been so hostile. Despite its hatred and massacres against us, Islam sees in Judaism a source and a guide. I think the moment will come that Muslims understand the need to build the Temple and go along with us."
Stein outlined his plan for Israel, calling for a king to be appointed democratically. "Democracy was not invented today, the king is elected from a list of candidates. A senior judge, as was done during the days of the judges, can also be appointed," he added.
However, such practices ended 2000 years ago, Rabbi Doniel Hartman was quoted by the Associated Press as saying.
"Around that time, animal sacrifice, as a mode of religious worship, stopped for Jews, Christians and Muslims," said the rabbi from the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, according to AP. "Moving back in that direction is not progress," he added.
According to mainstream Jewish thought, animal sacrifices must not be carried out outside of Temple, which itself cannot be rebuilt by human endeavor, but will be rebuilt upon the arrival of the messiah.