The most holy place in the entire world for Jews is the Western Wall, commonly referred to as the “Wailing Wall” or the “Kotel.” It is the final piece of the ancient Jewish temple’s exterior wall still standing, and it is a crucial location in Israeli history. It is found in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Every year, thousands of worshippers of various religions come to the wall to pay their respects and offer prayers. These prayers are often said aloud or written down and tucked into the crevices of the walls. One portion of the wall is designated for men, and the other for women.
WHAT DOES THE WESTERN WALL COMMEMORATE?
During the Second Temple’s enlargement in 20 BCE, King Herod constructed this wall. The support wall was left standing after the Romans demolished the temple in 70 CE. People prayed on the tiny area of the wall that was visible for hundreds of years. Following the Six-Day War in 1967, Israelis excavated beneath the wall’s surface, revealing two more layers. To build the Western Wall Plaza that visitors see today, they also cleaned the space around the wall.
The Western Wall is available for free, and it is open every day of the year. Both men and women at the Western Wall Plaza should dress modestly. Women must cover their shoulders and legs when praying at the wall (scarves are provided at the site). The head should be covered by men.
In Israel, ceremonies are placed at this significant historical site, and the Wall is commonly used for military inductions of recruits. A Jewish family should consider holding their child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah near the Western Wall as one of their greatest experiences.
11 Things to know before visiting the Western Wall:
Before entering the Western Wall, like with many locations in Israel, you must pass through a security checkpoint and metal detector. Again, if you are traveling with a tour guide, you will frequently avoid the wait and go straight to the security checkpoint.
One portion of the wall is designated for males, and the other for women.
To enter the area, they must cover their shoulders and their legs up to their knees. Ladies, don’t be worried if you weren’t prepared. There is a stand where you may look for scarves to conceal yourself. The heads of men must also be covered. The men’s side also has a booth like that.
Respect individuals who are praying and worshiping by remaining silent. You’ll understand why the Western Wall is also known as the Wailing Wall as soon as you enter the premises.
You will witness individuals engaged in ardent prayer as they rock back and forth, recite verses from the Torah, and sob and cry aloud. You are deeply moved by the sight of so many people engaged in such fervent prayer. It’s a certain Jerusalem experience.
You are welcome to inscribe a prayer or wish on the wall whether you are Jewish or not. When King Solomon constructed the Temple in the 1st King, he particularly pleaded with God to pay attention to the prayers of everyone who is drawn to the Temple—not only Jews.
The Temple Mount was described as “a temple of prayer for all nations” by the prophet Isaiah. Therefore, you are welcome to jot a prayer or wish down on paper, fold it, and affix it to the wall.
Never turn your back on the wall—it’s a custom—if you want to be extra courteous. Due to the stigma attached to turning away from the wall, you will frequently see individuals walking away from it backward. Additionally, it is thought that keeping your back to the wall represents keeping your back to your prayers to God.
The Western Wall is a little bit different to visit on Saturday and other times of the week. One is to avoid using any electronic devices at all, including cell phones, cameras, and texting.
Before you approach the wall, make sure your phone is off. I’d advise showing up at the wall around an hour before dusk; you’ll observe the women preparing candles for the Saturday liturgy and Yeshiva students enjoying the impending Saturday.
There are notices at the wall openings that clarify that smoking and setting fire is prohibited after Saturday has started. The exact hours that Saturday is observed at the wall change throughout the year depending on when the sun sets. The last restriction is that writing
All visitors are welcome at all times at the Western Wall’s Prayer Plaza portion. Free entry is provided, but clothes must be modest. The tunnels are open from 7 a.m. until late into the evening on Sunday through Thursday, and from 7 a.m. until noon on Friday (closing time varies on tour timings). Adult guided excursions cost 30 ILS (about $8 USD), while junior and senior trips cost 15 ILS (about $4 USD).