The Western Wall, Jerusalem

by Leslie Hossack

For centuries, the Western Wall has been a site for Jewish prayer and pilgrimage.

Men’s Section, Western Wall, Jerusalem 2011

© Leslie Hossack

The Old City of Jerusalem covers approximately one square kilometer, and is divided into the Armenian, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Quarters. Inside the city walls, there are many holy sites sacred to Muslims, Christians and Jews, including the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Western Wall.

The Western or Wailing Wall is located at the base of the western side of the Temple Mount. It is a remnant of the ancient wall that surrounded the Jewish Temple’s courtyard, and it is one of the most sacred places in Judaism, after the Temple Mount itself. Much of the wall was built by Herod around 19 BCE.

For centuries, the Western Wall has been a site for Jewish prayer and pilgrimage. With the rise of the Zionist movement in the early 20th century, the wall became a source of friction between Muslims and Jews. After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, the wall came under Jordanian control; Jews were barred from the site for 19 years, until Israel occupied the Old City in 1967.

The men’s section of the Western Wall is always bustling with activity. Many Bar Mitzvahs take place here, and a Torah cabinet is visible in this photograph. A number of men are wearing the tefillin, two small black boxes with straps; these boxes contain tiny scrolls upon which are written four Biblical passages. At the base of the wall, individuals engage in private prayer, tourists take pictures, and larger groups participate in special events.

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