The Western Wall, The Kotel, The Wailing Wall…

Whenever Eileen and I visit the Old City in Jerusalem, which is quite often, one place that we must always visit is the Western Wall, the Kotel, which is the most significant site in the world for the Jewish people. We know that it is the last remnant of our Temple.  People from around the world, of all faiths, come here to pray. It was formerly called the “Wailing Wall” by European observers because for centuries, Jews came here to mourn the loss of their temple.

Why is the Kotel so important to the Jewish people?  The Wall was built by King Herod just before the time of Jesus and is part of a structure that retains the western part of Temple Mount, where the Dome of the Rock now stands, and the ceremonial plaza Herod created on the Temple Mount itself. Walls surrounded the western, southern, and eastern sides of the Temple Mount.  The western wall is the only one to survive the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 586 BC.

On our last visit to the wall I decided to video the area and share my experience. I say “my experience” because Eileen is not allowed to go to the area of the wall where the men pray. A separate area for women  is available for them to pray.

The women's area of the Western Wall...

The women’s area of the Western Wall…

When you enter the Kotel through one of several security checkpoints, you arrive at the main plaza which is located in a former  Arab neighborhood that was next to the wall. The neighborhood was razed after the ‘6 Day War’ in 1967 and the current plaza was built in its place. The plaza is used by both men and women and groups gather here before and after heading to the wall. It also is the largest outdoor synagogue in the world.

AEPi fraternity members made a visit to the wall and had a photo-op.

AEPi fraternity members take a group photo in the plaza…

Men who would like to go to the Wall must wear a hat or take a head covering, at no cost, from a box beside the entrance to the prayer area. Men are also asked if they would like to put on Tefillin. You know what that is right?

Putting on Tefilin at the Wall...

Putting on Tefillin at the Wall…

At the prayer section of the Western Wall, grass grows out of the upper cracks. The lower cracks have been stuffed with bits of paper containing prayers.

Men praying at the wall. Cracks are stuffed with prayer notes...

Men praying at the wall. Cracks are stuffed with prayer notes…

Orthodox Jews can be seen standing at the wall, chanting and swaying.

Orthodox Jews praying at the wall...

Orthodox Jews praying at the wall…

On some days Bar and Bat Mitzvahs are held at the Wall. Even when these aren’t being held, families come to pray at the wall together.

Father and son...

Father and son…

Members of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are often found praying at the wall. On previous visits we were able to observe the swearing-in ceremonies of new IDF members in the plaza. All Israelis,  men and women, must serve in the IDF, usually at the age of 18-19. Orthodox Jews who cannot serve must do “National Service” instead, working in hospitals, schools, etc..

IDF members praying at the Wall...

IDF members praying at the Wall…

To the left of the wall is the entrance to the inside prayer area. The wall continues into the area for the men to pray and study.

Praying in the inside...

Praying in the inside…

Studying inside...

Studying inside…

I hope that this gives you an understanding of what you will see in the video…Sholom!

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4 thoughts on “The Western Wall, The Kotel, The Wailing Wall…

  1. Fascinating! They don’t mind someone video-ing? They don’t seem to notice, from what I can tell. — In your last blog (Church of the Holy Sepulchre) I thought your image of the nun (the square cropping in particular) was simply haunting. And the white umbrella added a symbolic
    touch.

  2. Thanks all! I have never had a problem shooting at the Wall. Some men will turn or cover their faces but that’s about it. Many orthodox Jews come with cameras too. If I feel that it’s inappropriate I stop shooting. I enjoy posting and educating. Guess it’s the teacher in me.

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