At the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City is the Western Wall. This often called the Wailing Wall, but you will never hear a Jew use this name as it is considered highly offensive. This name was coined by non-Jews who occupied Israel, mocking the pain of the Jews who wept at the Western Wall after the ancient Jewish Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.
Temple Mount and the Western Wall are the most sacred sites in the world for Jewish people. People from all corners of the world and from all religions, come together to pray and meditate here.
The Western Wall is a remnant of the Jewish Temple that was destroyed centuries ago in 70 A.D. by the Romans. The Kotel is the western retaining wall of the Temple. The Wall has grown in significance because it is all that remains of the Temple. The Western Wall is 50 meters long, and 20 meters high, however this is actually just a fraction of the wall. The wall extends beneath the ground, with many tunnels and even an ancient Roman theatre.
Regardless of your religious beliefs, it’s impossible to not feel the power and religious and historical significance of the Wall, and be deeply moved.
Thousands of people travel to the wall each year to visit and recite prayers. It’s incredibly powerful to see and hear people loudly praying in different languages. Their prayers are either spoken or written down and placed in the cracks of the wall. I would suggest you have your prayer written on a piece of paper when you visit the Wall.
You have to pass strict security before entering and there’s a police presence everywhere. The wall is divided into two sections, one area for males and the other for females. Men must wear a yarmulke and women must cover their head. Modest dress is a requirement and deep respect is a MUST. You must wait patiently and respectfully in your section for the person in front of you to complete their prayers. Once they are finished, you step towards the wall, bow your head and offer prayers. You can stay there as long as necessary, and once you have finished you must slowly walk backwards away from the wall. Turning your back on the holy wall is considered disrespectful.
Twice a year the Rabbi of the Western Wall collects the thousands of notes to ensure there is space for future prayers, and he buries them on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives.
The Western Wall is an intense and emotional place, so be prepared to feel deeply moved.
I’m a travel and health writer, digital and brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two active boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising teenage boys, family life after a cancer diagnosis, and family travels around the world! Each story is shared with my dry, and sometimes naughty sense of humor.