The Western Wall aka The Wailing Wall aka Kotel

For years, the Western Wall has always kept me fascinated. Back then, I only know this as the Wailing Wall. And after my trip to Jerusalem, I learned another word for this, the Jewish word Kotel.

What is in this wall that Jews from all over would come and say prayers to? I wanted to pray on that wall even if I am not Jewish. So, of course on my trip to Jerusalem, the Western Wall was tops on my list.

The Western Wall is over 2000 years old. It used to protect the beautiful Second Temple that united the Jewish nation. The First Temple was built by King Solomon but was destroyed by the Babylonians. Years later, the "Dome of the Rock" was built over where the Temple was. Houses were also built up against the Western Wall and it hid almost the entire wall.

The Second Temple was built afterward, then remodeled by Herod and in 70 CE on the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av, the Temple was destroyed by the Romans.It is the heart of the Jewish nation. Today, people from all over the world come to the Western Wall to visit, to touch, to feel and to pray. This is because this is the closest place that Jews are allowed to pray where the Holy of Holies on the Temple of the Mount is believed to have been.

It is open 24/7 for anyone who is decently dressed. A special head covering is needed for the men but disposable skull caps are available. I went on a Shabbat but no pictures are allowed on the Shabbat which start on sunset on Fridays and ends on sunset on Saturday. Apparently, the best day to come and visit is at dusk on a Friday for the special Shabbat celebration or Holy Days. I entered through the Dung Gate. I had to go through security and my bag was searched.

So there I was, by my lonesome self, feeling out of place, clutching several pieces of papers with prayers written on it. I looked at how enormous the wall was. Every available crack that is within my arms reach was filled with pieces of folded paper. Some of them have yellowed and petrified with age. I had the urge to grab one and just read what was written inside.

There was a wall dividing the men from the women. I'm just little over five feet tall so I had to tiptoe a bit to peep over the men's side. All this while walking backward towards the gate.

Other than praying and watching the Jews pray, you can also watch a Bar Mitzvah or other Jewish activities.

There is a deep sense of solemnity on the site that you can't help but make the tiniest of movements for fear of disturbing those who are in deep prayer.

Even though Jews are exiled and scattered all over the world, wherever they went, they always remembered Jerusalem and in their heart, they hoped to return to it.

There is a tunnel tour available. This will take you through the excavations done along the wall. And just a few steps from the Temple of the Mount entrance is a small gate leading to a garden filled with ruins. There is a small extension of the Wailing Wall and it is more private and beautiful.


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