by Liron Naglar-Cohen
by Liron Naglar-Cohen
March 2, 2012
In heart of Sahara desert’s film capital, Israelis searching for tombs of the just discover magnificent reconstruction of ‘Jewish temple’ for movie.
In Morocco’s Sahara desert, a half-hour drive from any community, lays the third temple in all its glory. Not the real temple, of course, but close enough to any Jewish worshipper’s wet dream.
Apparently, the ‘temple’ was built in the heart of Ouarzazate, Morocco’s film capital, for the production of a new movie. It is here where such Hollywood films as “The Ten Commandments” and “Gladiator” were shot.
However for most righteous Jews, Ouarzazate is the burial place of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, and a hot spot for thousands of visitors every year marking the festivities of his Yom Hillula (the anniversary of his passing).
Shlomi Lugasi, 24, an Israeli from Ma’alot-Tarshiha, set off on a journey with friends in early February to visit the tombs of the just in Morocco, only to discover the magnificent ‘temple.’
“We were heading towards Marrakech when suddenly one of my friends said that there was a Jewish temple nearby,’ Lugasi explained.
“It was located in the middle of the desert… but we decided we had to see it. We drove uphill on a dirt road for twenty minutes, when suddenly we saw a temple.”
Lugasi and his friends quickly began to photograph the amazing structure. “You can really see the stairs, the Holy of Holies and the altar. You get there and you see a temple. Neither you or I have ever seen it before, and suddenly it’s in front of you, and it’s crazy,” he added.
“The entire journey was very spiritual, and we were already in the mood. It does something to you, to walk around in such a place. It makes you yearn like crazy for a temple. You say: ‘I want the real thing.'”
Local construction workers on site told the excited group that the place was being renovated for a new film, so luckily for them – it was open for visitors. On most days, the ‘temple’ is off limits, located on private land.
“It’s huge,” Lugasi remarked. “In the photo you see only a tiny part. And as massive as it looks… it’s all made out of fiberglass. Those enormous pillars that look like they weight a ton actually way only about a gram and a half. But because it’s in the middle of the desert it never rains and the set stays intact.”
According to him, the locals knew the Israeli group before them was connected to the ‘temple’ in someway. “They told us: ‘We know it’s yours,’ and greeted us very kindly.”