Western Wall TL;DR

If you’re not sure what the Western Wall is all about, here are some basic questions answered!

What is the Western Wall?

The Western Wall is a significant Jewish holy site located in the old city of Jerusalem. The Wall as it stands today was originally part of the expansion of the Second Jewish Temple. Jewish people visit this holy site to pray and feel its connection to Temple Mount. 

What are the traditions there?

You might hear someone say “Next year in Jerusalem” at the end of both Passover Seder and Yom Kippur. This sentiment is specifically acknowledging the Western Wall as the place in Israel where Jewish people hope to come on these special days. At the site, there are washing stations where people will cleanse their hands before approaching the wall. The wall is separated by gender, so visitors will split into their respective sides. It is custom for Jews to pray at the wall, and put their hand out or lean their head against it. Once they are finished with their time at the wall, they will back away and remain facing the wall as they leave. It can be seen as disrespectful to turn one’s back to the wall.  A common practice is to put a note into the cracks of the wall. These notes can contain prayers, wishes, and/or sentiments. The notes come in all forms, lengths, and languages. 

What happens to the notes?

It is cited in Jewish Law that these sacred notes cannot be thrown away. There are differing ideas about whether these notes should be burned or buried. As of now, the notes are collected twice a year and buried in the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives. 

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