click here to jump to start of article
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

Western Wall

Western Wall

It was once called the "Wailing Wall," for all the generations of Jewish tears shed at this holy place of yearning.


Once called the "Wailing Wall", the Western Wall of the Temple Mount is referred to in Hebrew as the "Kotel", the "Wall." The Western Wall Plaza has been opened since 1967 to all people as a place of prayer and study. The varied actions and accents around us each call for our attention, but let us move through the crowd and examine the Wall itself.

At first glance, it looks like a single wall, but closer examination reveals that it is actually made up of three distinct layers:

At the top are smallish uniform stones, attributed to repair work financed by Sir Moses Montefiore in 1866.



There is much speculation as to when the layers of medium-sized stones were added. Estimates range from the Omayad and Abbasid Moslems to the Crusader period.

Beneath that are the larger Herodian Stones. Close to the bottom, these stones become more uniform and complete, clearly displaying the classic "boss" or frame around each stone, a trademark of Herodian building.

On the right side of the women's area of Western Wall Plaza is Barclay's Gate, named for an American tourist who "found" it in 1848. Amazingly, this portion of the Kotel is the western opening of an actual gate that led into the Temple. Some 2,000 years later you can literally feel a chunk of history in your hands.

You pause for a moment and absorb the immensity of it all. The history, the strange pull this place has on our hearts. Why do we keep coming to pray here? Why do even those who maintain a healthy skepticism still take time to write a note to place in the Wall?

Could it be that the rough touch of the stones also touches something deep inside us? Is there perhaps a hidden Kotel in our hearts and souls? 

You linger a while longer and find yourself a little lost in these peaceful thoughts. Jerusalem...the Kotel...Could it be that the hidden tunnels really do reflect a still, small place in our souls?

We pause to absorb The tunnel entrance waiting area the history, the beauty, the radiant spirituality of this place. And with a prayer that we be successful in our quest for truth, we head for the tunnel.


January 27, 2010

Article 3 of 16 in the series Western Wall Tunnel Tours

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 6

(6) wendy novatt, August 27, 2015 2:17 PM

my dream is to go to Israel

I am Jewish of Russian and Roumanian descent.. Ashkenazi.. 64 yrs old and want to follow the footsteps of going to Israel.. to visit

(5) Lori, December 5, 2014 2:13 PM

Hi. Mimela. I was there in november 2013. After 33 years, I have realized my dream . Go to Israel and see Jerusalem . My daughter accompanied me . It has been wonderful . And I am grateful to God for allowing me this happened .

(4) MR JUNIE GEORGE SANTALIA, February 6, 2013 2:05 AM


i was there in December 2012

(3) mimela, March 29, 2011 10:33 PM

My parents came from Russia and Romania in the very early days of the 1900's. They met in Philadelphia and married in 1927 I was the baby coming in 1944. I grew up in a Jewish home all i knew was kosher food and the all the holidays. I wanted to go to Hebrew School so I could be a Bat-mitzvah. Dad said no girls need to go. When I was 14 I saw a book on the Holocaust and what I read I could not believe, I cried for a long time. When Oprah did her show from one of the camps I made my granddaughter and daughter watch. I was invited to go to Israel with my mom I was thrilled, shortly after that our 6 year old daughter was diagnosed with Diabetes and I had to tell my mom I couldn't to the conclusion (i'm sorry to take so long) Now that I am 66 I still dream about Israel, I made sure my kids (and grands) went to Hebrew School I always made holiday dinners, lit the candles and more important made sure we lived the Jewish way. I love your stories and most make me cry because I love Israel. I realize there are problems with all goverments none perfect. I also have had a pen-pal there in Holon. I just want to thank you so much for the wonderful things you have in Aish.

(2) Anonymous, January 3, 2011 9:48 PM

Great to see the history

Thank you for your dilligence

See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment