A dear friend of mine, Anna Solomon
, a Traditional Teacher of the Anishinaabe traditions
, recently saw my latest Facebook post from Jerusalem. The post featured a photograph of myself sitting at the Western Wall site. I knew that Anna was genuinely interested in my reasons for visiting the site.
Anna’s grandfather whose Solomon name she carries was a German Jew born in Berlin Germany in the early 1700s. He arrived in Canada around 1763. He eventually married an Anishinaabe woman.
The Western Wall is a significant location for Jews and Christians worldwide. Many famous Jewish personalities who visit Israel make sure to take pictures near the Wall to show their support for the country. People from all over the world come to the Wall to pray and leave notes with their requests to G-d. Israelis come here to celebrate Bar Mitzvahs and Jewish holidays, while religious Jews from Jerusalem visit the Wall for their regular morning and evening prayers.
Photo by Nadya Katzir
My first encounter with the Western Wall was 12 years ago, when I brought my sister-in-law to pray for a child after seven years of continuous miscarriages. Miraculously, she now has two healthy boys. Since then, I have brought many international friends to visit the Western Wall, and they all describe feeling a special spiritual energy that they cannot explain.
I have also visited the Western Wall alone during significant moments of my life, like when I got married, started a new job, and mourned my mother’s death. For me, the Western Wall is a place of strength where I can seek answers to life’s big questions and seek solace during difficult times.
The Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall, is one of the most iconic landmarks in Jerusalem and holds a special place in the hearts of many Jews and Christians around the world. It is the last remaining part of the retaining wall that surrounds the Temple Mount and is considered a sacred site for prayer and pilgrimage by the Jewish people.
The Western Wall was home to the First and Second Temples of Jerusalem, which the ancient Jews deemed uniquely holy. The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587–586 BCE, and the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE.
The authenticity of the Wall has been confirmed by tradition, history, and archaeological research. While the wall dates back to around the 2nd century BCE, its upper sections were added later. Various texts relate to its survival, with some claiming that G-d saved it for the Jewish people, while others suggest that Titus left it as a painful reminder of the Roman defeat of Judea.
While the Western Wall is a place of spiritual significance, it is also a site with a contentious history. The argument over control of the wall and the right of access to it has been ongoing between Jews and Arabs. The Israeli government took control of the Old City after the Six-Day War of June 1967, making it a place of religious and cultural diversity.
Photo by Nadya Katzir
Today, visitors to the Western Wall can witness a blend of different cultures and religions. You can see people from different backgrounds coming together to respect and appreciate the diverse views that make up the city.
As a tourist, you can visit the Western Wall freely, though proper dress and security bag checks are required. Unwritten rules like not photographing those praying and not shouting too much to avoid disturbing others should be followed. Women use the right side of the Wall, while men use the left. Visitors do not need to take a guide or a tour agent, and all the essential information about the Wall can be found at the entrance.
During my last visit to the Wall, I walked 25 minutes from the Abraham Hostel Jerusalem
during the late evening hours. Despite the often negative news reports about Jerusalem, I saw no terrible incidents and felt entirely safe. In fact, it was a very joyous and celebratory atmosphere because it was during Sukkot in Jerusalem.
Photo by Nadya Katzir
I hope Anna now knows everything she wanted to know about the Western Wall and hopefully can visit Israel someday. You too, dear readers, hope you will come to visit Israel soon!
What about you, fellow Israelis? Tell us your thoughts and experience of the Wall in the comments section below.