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The Wailing Wall (as it is known in the West) or Western Wall (derived from Hebrew: הַכּוֹתֶל הַמַּעֲרָבִי, romanized: HaKotel HaMa'aravi, lit. 'the western wall', often shortened to the Kotel or Kosel), known in Islam as the Buraq Wall (Arabic: Ḥā'iṭ al-Burāq حَائِط ٱلْبُرَاق Arabic pronunciation: ['ħaːʔɪtˤ albʊ'raːq]), is an ancient limestone ...
- 19 BCE
- 488 metres (1,601 ft)
- exposed: 19 metres (62 ft)
The Western Wall. We all know that the Western Wall, the Kotel, is the most significant site in the world for the Jewish people. We know that it is the last remnant of our Temple. We also know that Jews from around the world gather here to pray. People write notes to G-d and place them between the ancient stones of the Wall.
Western Wall, Hebrew Ha-Kotel Ha-Maʿaravi, also called Wailing Wall, in the Old City of Jerusalem, a place of prayer and pilgrimage sacred to the Jewish people. It is the only remains of the retaining wall surrounding the Temple Mount, the site of the First and Second Temples of Jerusalem, held to be uniquely holy by the ancient Jews.
- The 1967 War
After the destruction of the First Temple, the area on which it was built, the Temple Mount, came to be known as Har Habayit. When the Romans razed the Second Temple, they left one outer wall standing. They probably would have destroyed that wall as well, but it must have seemed too insignificant to them since it was not part of the Temple itself, just a retaining wall surrounding the Temple Mount. It held no special significance, according to F.M. Loewenberg, until the 16th century when Sultan Suleyman I (the Magnificent) ended nearly 300 years of Mamluk rule and established the Ottoman Empire. Suleyman restored Jerusalem’s city walls in 1536 and encouraged Jews who had been expelled from Spain and Portugalto settle in the city. In 1546, an earthquake devastated the region and damaged the Temple Mount and the surrounding area. Suleyman ordered the rubble of homes adjacent to the western wall to be cleared for a prayer site for the Jews. Suleyman issued a firman(decree) that Jews ha...
On the second day of the 1967 Six-Day War, Israeli paratroopers entered the Old City and took control over the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. Several days later, the houses of the Mugrabi Quarter were bulldozed to create the large plaza that exists today in front of the Western Wall, which allows thousands of worshippers to visit the site at one time. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, meanwhile, agreed the Muslim authorities (the Waqf) would retain control over the Muslim holy places on the Temple Mount. Jews were to have free access to visit, but they were prohibited from praying there to avoid conflict with the Muslims. One of the first to reach the Kotel during the war was Dayan, who helped revive a traditional Jewish custom by inserting a written petition into its cracks. It was later revealed that Dayan's prayer was that a lasting peace descend upon the House of Israel. The custom of inserting written prayers (kvitlach) into the Kotel's cracks is so widespread that some...
Unfortunately, even a symbol as unifying as the Kotel can become a source of controversy in Jewish life. Ultra-OrthodoxJews have long opposed organized women's prayer services at the Wall; prayer services they maintain, may only be conducted by males. On occasion they have violently dispersed such services, throwing chairs and other “missiles” at the praying women. A separate area is available for women to pray, but they are prohibited from wearing prayer shawls normally worn by male worshippers, singing, or bringing Torah scrolls to the Wall. On occasion, women have defied the authorities and been harassed by men or arrested by the police. On January 31, 2016, the Israeli government approved the creation of an “egalitarian” prayer space where non-Orthodox Jewish men and women can pray together at the Western Wall. This decision was met with praise from Jewish leaders across the globe, and opposition from Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Israeli citizens and members of the government. Is...
Loewenberg concludes: Sources: Yair Ettinger, “More Than 150 Reform Rabbis Hold Mixed-gender Service at New Western Wall Prayer Space,” Haaretz (February 25, 2016). Isabel Kershner, “Israel Approves Prayer Space at Western Wall for Non-Orthodox Jews,” New York Times (January 31, 2016). Isabel Kershner, “Israel Suspends Plan for Egalitarian Prayer Area at Western Wall,” New York Times, (June 25, 2017). Judy Maltz, “Israel’s High Court Sends Clear Message to Government: Reconsider ‘Frozen’ Western Wall Deal,” Haaretz, (August 31, 2017). F.M. Loewenberg, “Is the Western Wall Judaism's Holiest Site?” Middle East Quarterly, (Fall 2017). Joseph Telushkin, Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know About the Jewish Religion, Its People and Its History, (NY: William Morrow and Co., 1991). Reprinted by permission of the author. “Workers in hazmat suits collect prayers from ‘God's mailbox’ in Jerusalem,” Reuters, (March 31, 2020). Photo courtesy of Jack Hazut, J.H.M. Photography
People also ask
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Western Wall. The Western Wall, or “Wailing Wall”, is the most religious site in the world for the Jewish people. Located in the Old City of Jerusalem, it is the western support wall of the Temple Mount. Thousands of people journey to the wall every year to visit and recite prayers. These prayers are either spoken or written down and placed ...