There is no known historical or textual evidence of Jewish pilgrimage to the site in ancient times, in Talmudic times, or even during the Second Temple period, according to Rehav Rubin, a professor of geography who specializes in maps and pilgrimages of the Holy Land.Despite the lack of historical precedent, the site is becoming a pilgrimage site for Jews in commemoration of the biblical story of the Israelites' crossing of the Jordan under Joshua. This only started when the site reopened in 2011.
“Jews never came to Qasr al Yahud in the past centuries as pilgrims, it’s only something just from the last decade,” said Lior Chen, a graduate student in anthropology at Hebrew University who is completing a dissertation and fieldwork on the site. In his research Chen has found that motivations of the Jewish visitors range from interest in the Bible to politics to simply getting a close-up view of the border with Jordan, which is just a few meters across the water from Qasr al Yahud, demarcated by a rope running down the middle of the river.
For background on Qasr Al-Yahud, its Christian pilgrimage tradition, and the ongoing de-mining project there, start here and follow the links.
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