Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Jerusalem Part 2: The Wall

The Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall or Kotel, is the most sacred sight for the Jewish Religion. Bloging about the most sacred Christian site last time, I think this will balance my blog out a touch. More importantly, the Wall holds a very special place in my heart because I am Jewish.

The Western Wall is associated with the Jewish Temple. Jerusalem was a city built up by the Canaanites. Jerusalem is located in a naturally protected place; the Negev desert lays to east, and a large ravine is located on the west, so it is a challenging city to militarily occupy. King David finally conquered the city, and made it his capitol for the united country of Israel. It was his son Solomon who was said to have built the First Temple.

When the Babylonians invaded the southern kingdom of Judah, they destroyed the First Temple and captured the population taking them into captivity. The Jews had 70 years of captivity before they returned to the land, rebuilding the temple in the 6th Century B.C.E.

King Herod expanded on the Temple Mound during his rule, making the Temple a grand place. After the revolts in 70 C.E. the Romans destroyed the Second Temple.

What remains today is not a wall of the temple, it is actually the support wall of the Temple Mount King Herod built when he expanded the mound. The Romans left it only because they thought it was insignificant, but really it quickly became sacred to the Jews.

From 1948 to 1967 Jews were not given access to the Wall, although on paper they were given the right. After the Six Day War in 1967 Jews returned to the Wall.

Being in the Kotel is a unique experience. For me, I feel extremely connected and at ease when I am there. But I think there is something even more important about the Kotel; The Basillica of the Holy Sepulchre is extremely ornate, and in contrast the Wall is simple and without any decoration or elegance. I think this striking difference says a lot about the differences between the religions, and the different situations of the two religions.

Don’t judge my pictures too harshly; the wall is simple, and so are my pictures.

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