The Wailing Wall

Praying at the Wailing Wall, also known as the Western Wall in Jerusalem has been a Jewish custom for centuries.

Friday evening in the Old City of Jerusalem voices can be heard singing out as other voices join in devotions. The Sabbath, a holy day for the Jewish faith is beginning. The Jewish people gather before their most sacred shrine, "The Wailing Wall". This wall is the western wall of an ancient courtyard and for that reason it is also referred to as "The Western Wall." The Romans destroyed the Jewish Temple in 70 AD after the Jewish people revolted against Roman rule.

The wall is the only remaining structure of the ancient Temple of Jerusalem. Inside the courtyard King Solomon's glorious temple once stood. The temple was destroyed and rebuilt several times until only part of the western wall remained. The wall is just outside of the Temple Mount and is considered to be Judaism's holiest site.

Some of the ruins of the original temple can still be seen today. People built their houses all around the temple. On the top of the temple mount the priest would stand and blow their Shofar to call the people to prayer. Then, the Jews were exiled from their homes and it was years before they could return to Jerusalem to stay, but the temple was never rebuilt.

The reason people pray at the wall are because it is believed to be the closest point to the Holy of Holies, the holiest room of the old temple. A Muslim mosque now occupies this site. This old tradition of praying at the wall began around 200-300 AD when Rabbis claimed that God's presence still tarried at the location of the Holy of Holies. Sad to say, the wall has been an object of bickering between Muslims and Jews for centuries. When Jews began moving back into the territory in the 1800s the tenseness increased between the two religions.

Jews come to the wall from all over the world. Many write prayers and messages on paper and stick them between the cracks. The men wear either a hat or yarmulka to show respect. At the wall you can hear some of them wailing or crying for the loss of their great temple. This is why the wall became known as "the Wailing Wall." Many events take place at the wall such as religious gatherings and celebrations. Today the area is under Jewish control since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War when Jerusalem captured Jordan.

Some tips on visiting the Wailing Wall:

-Be prepared for a security check. Maybe quick body frisks or opening bags, etc.

-Act in a manner of reverence. Remember the Wailing Wall is considered a place of worship.

-Dress proper. Don't go in short shorts and tank tops. Show respect and remember that many will be there praying.

-No smoking

-No pictures may be taken on the Jewish Sabbath, starting Friday at sunset and continues through Saturday night.

-Last of all, enjoy your visit to the Wailing Wall and have a wonderful time learning about the Jewish religion and customs.

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