The Western Wall has been the center of Jewish yearning and memory for more than 2,000 years. The only fragment of the Great Temple Mount to survive the Roman destruction, the Divine Presence has never departed from The western Wall.

Built to support the western side of the Temple Mount, it is known as the Western Wall (in Hebrew, HaKotel HaMa’aravi), it is the most sacred structure of the Jewish people. Its ancient stones stand testimony to a glorious Jewish past, a proud heritage and an extraordinary national rebirth. It is a focus of Jewish longing and prayer for redemption and renewal.



Hanukkah at the Western Wall

Photo: Ron Peled

Why is the Temple Mount sacred?
Long before the Temple stood on this mount, Abraham came here to sacrifice his son Isaac, and Jecob slept here, dreaming of a ladder to heaven. Then called Mount Moriah, its summit was where Solomon built the Temple on the land which his father King David purchased from Aravnah, the Jebusite, 3,000 years ago. That Temple, destroyed by the Babylonian conqueror Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BCE, was rebuilt 70 years later and restored to its original glory by Herod, 2,000 years ago. Such was its splendor, it was said that “he who has not seen the Temple of Herod has not seen a building of true beauty.” In 68 CE, this Temple was destroyed by the Romans, burned to the ground and its stones scattered with only the Western Wall untouched.

What does the Temple mean to Jews and to non-Jews?
The prophet Isaiah called the Temple a “house for all nations.” A universal center of spirituality, it stirs the thoughts and emotions of Jew and non-Jew, and energizes the inner connection between the individual and G-d. Even with the Temple destroyed, the holiness of the place is such that it remains sacred and, for Jews, central, with every generation facing it in prayer. Today, people from all over the world converge here, to see, feel and pray, and no wedge notes, requests and pleas between its timeless stones.



The Western Wall by Night

Photo: Ron Peled

What is the Western Wall Plaza?
The Western Wall Plaza is the cleared area in front of part of the Western Wall. It allows both a dignified approach to this holy place, and is a setting for national events: the Priests’ Blessing (Birkat Cohanim) at Pesach and Sukkot, candle-lighting on Chanukah, the swearing-in of Israel’s police and armed forces recruits, and IDF Memorial Day and Jerusalem Day ceremonies. It is also a popular place for bar and bat mitzvahs of youngsters from Israel and abroad, as well the official site of the bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies of young victims of terror.

Until some 700 years ago, the entire length of the Western Wall was accessible. Gradually, the city’s Mamluke and Moslem conquerors built against it. Jews who continued to pray at the Wall began winding their way through narrow alleys to reach it until Jordan occupied Jerusalem’s Old City in 1948, and Jews were denied access to the Wall. With Jerusalem reunified in 1967 and the Wall joyously restored to the Jewish people, the plaza in front of it was cleared, allowing all-comers to approach. The wall has become a unique place of prayer, and a symbol of Jewish national unity.

Do we see the entire Western Wall from the Plaza?
Just over an eighth (55 meters/180 feet) of the 488 meters (1,600 feet) Wall lines the Prayer Plaza. Another 80-plus meters (270 feet) stretch to the right as you face the Wall, and some 320 meters (almost 1,000 feet) to the left, into the Western Wall Tunnels.



Bar Mitzva Ceremony in the Western Wall

Photo: Ron Peled

What is special about being at the Western Wall?
All stand equal in front of the Wall. Jews sense their Judaism, often for the first time. Touching its stones links us with our nation and heritage, with the Jewish people and our long, turbulent history. Standing at the Wall, perspectives, thoughts and feelings crystallize and the insignificant fades away. The wall has withstood time, it has witnessed war and peace, destruction and revival. For generations, it has absorbed the prayers and yearnings of those near and far. Today, it is the most visited site in Israel. To feel, to understand, to experience true awe, come to Jerusalem, to the Western wall.

•    Please respect the holiness of this site and follow his directives of the attendants.
•    Contributions toward the maintenance and development of the Western Wall complex can be made in the designated collection boxes.

In the prayer area, please:
•    Wear appropriate head covering.
•    Turn off your mobile phone.
•    Speak quietly to avoid disturbing those at prayer.

On the Sabbaths and holidays:
•    Please do not smoke, write notes, take photographs or use mobile phones in the area of the Wall.

Appropriate and modest dress:
The Western Wall, the remnant of the holy Temple, is a place of prayer. Immodest clothing offends both the holiness of the site and those who pray there. Please respect the sacredness of the site.

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz,
Rabbi of the Western Wall

Western Wall Heritage Foundation,
2 HaOmer Street, Old City of Jerusalem

Information and reservations for Western Wall Tunnel tours: 1-599-515-888

Information on celebrating a Bar Mitzvah at the Western Wall: 1-599-515-888,
Sunday to Thursday, 4:00 to 7:00 pm

Please visit our website at www.thekotel.org for:
•    constant live video streaming from the Western Wall
•    a virtual tour of the Western Wall Tunnels
•    to send a note to the Wall
•    information on planning a Bar Mitzvah at the Wall
•    information on events and programs
•    and more…