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The Western Wall, Israel, Jewish

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The Western Wall is in Israel which is in southwest Asia, between the Mediterranean and the deserts of Syria and Arabia. Israel happens to be one of the tiniest nations on the face of the earth as it is only 8,000 square miles which is 2.5 times the size of Rhode Island (1). The countries that surround Israel are Lebanon which is North of Israel, Syria which is in the northeast, Jordan which is in the east, and Egypt which is in the southwest. The capital of Israel is Jerusalem which is the largest city in Israel and happens to be where the Western Wall is located. Although Israel is small in territory, Israel’s landscape and climate vary as it is divided into three main regions length wise. The first region is the coastal plain which is the country’s western strip. This region contains the country’s major transportation arteries and contains very fertile soil. There are moderate hills that create a transitional region between the coast and the mountains. This brings you to the second region which is the mountain region. The highest peaks are the Galilee’s Mountain and the Samaria’s Mountain which are both over 1,000 meters above sea level. The climate in the northern mountains is rainy, while the southern parts are a desert. The last region is the Jordan Valley Rift which was caused by seismic activity and extends from the Syrian – Turkish border to the Zambezi River in Africa. Israel’s largest river, the Jordan, flows through the Jordan Valley and includes the Sea of Galilees and the Dead Sea. As mentioned before, the Western Wall is located in Jerusalem which is located in the Judean Mountains between the Mediterranean and Dead Sea. The section of the Western Wall that is visible at the Prayer Plaza is comprised of 46 layers of stone. 29 of these layers are exposed above ground and contain stones from different time periods. The remaining seventeen layers are subterranean. This above-ground section reaches a height of 19 meters. However, the height of this section from its foundation to its peak is estimated at approximately 32 meters.

The Western Wall was built by King Herod in 20 BC and took 11 years to build. Jerusalem was destroyed and rebuilt 9 times and through it all, the Western Wall remained intact making the Wall the holiest shrine in Judaism. The Wall is sacred in the Jewish nation as it is the remnant of the second Holy Temple which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. When King Solomon built the first Holy temple; he wanted it to be the heart of the Jewish nation and a place where people felt inspired to talk to God. Although other parts of the Temple Mount remained standing after being destroyed, the Western Wall was the spot closest to the Holy of Holies which was the central focus of the Temple. The Western Wall has come to symbolize what the Jewish people lost during the time of destruction and has also been the symbol of the sorrow of generations. In Genesis 17:7, God promised that the Jewish people will never be destroyed and just as there were many efforts to destroy the Wall it still remained eternal which related to the Jewish people outliving their enemies and remaining eternal. Because of this relation, the Western Wall is a symbol to the Jewish people as a symbol of devastation and hope.

During the Ottoman Era, the Western Wall was primarily a place of worship for observant Jews as they viewed the site as a place of religious significance but from 1948 to 1967, when Jerusalem divided, the Jews were separated from the wall. However, after the British conquered Jerusalem the Wall became Zionist property. After the Six-Day War of 1967 the Western Wall took on a new political and practical status as the site came under Jewish and Israeli authority. Generations of Jews had been prevented from freely and regularly worshipping the site but in 1967, these obstacles were eliminated and the Wall became accessible to anyone wishing to visit or worship there. The Jewish devotions reaffirm the rabbinic belief that “the divine presence never departs from the western wall” as Jews lament the destruction of the Holy Temple and pray for its restoration. As Jews grieved the destruction of the temple, the wall has in the past, been called the “Wailing Wall.” This name was given by non-Jewish observers who were accustomed to seeing Jews gathering the Wall and “wailing” in prayer and mourning over the destroyed Holy Temples. For many centuries, Jews came to pray at the wall for both individual request and for the rebuilding of the Temple along with the return of sovereignty to the Jewish people. People of all religions come to pray at the Wall although only Jewish services are held publicly. The three main religions that are attached to the Western Wall are Christianity, Judaism, and Islam and is the most holy in Judaism. Many Muslims believe that the Wall has no connection to ancient Judaism at all but instead believe that Muhammed tied his winged steed to the wall when he ascended to heaven to speak to God (8). The reason why



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