For the first time since the pandemic erupted, about 300 Paratroopers came to the Western Wall for their exciting end of trainings. They were also divided into "capsules", as per Health Ministry regulations.
Rabbi, Professor, and Lord Jonathan Sacks zz”l, former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, passed away this past Shabbat. He told of coming to Israel immediately following the Six Day War. “I had come to study in Israel…and was standing on the newly rebuilt Hebrew University campus on Mount Scopus as the sun began to set, bathing the whole landscape in a divine radiance.As I found myself looking down on the Temple Mount, I recalled the famous story at the end of Masechet Makot, where Rabbi Akiva and his colleagues are looking down at the ruins of the Temple…As the rabbis wept, Rabbi Akiva smiled and laughed, and when asked how he could, Rabbi Akiva retold the two interlinked prophecies of Uriah – who foresaw the day when Jerusalem would be ruined – and Zachariah – who saw the day it would be rebuilt.Said Rabbi Akiva, until he saw the first prophecy fulfilled, he was not sure the second would be. Now he had seen the first prophecy fulfilled, he knew the second would one day also come true.I remember standing at almost that exact spot and being overwhelmed with emotion.For almost 2,000 years, Jews had waited for that moment, and ours was the generation that lived to see Jerusalem reunited and rebuilt…We had lived to see in person what our greatest prophets could only see in a vision.”Am Yisrael lost its most profound and articulate representative to the nations of the world. We long for the great people who are lost to us but who will never be forgotten
This morning (Monday), over 2,000 worshippers came to the Western Wall Plaza including worshippers of “netz” early morning prayers and bar mitzvah families who returned to celebrate bar mitzvahs and connect to our heritage here at the Western Wall, in the open air.The Western Wall Heritage Foundation is preparing for prayers amid the coronavirus restrictions even in the rain which began to fall last night. The Foundation set up prayer areas (capsules) in accordance with regulations and added coverings to allow for prayer services to continue unabated even in rainy weather.
Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Luigi Di Maio, came to the Western Wall for what was the first official and exciting visit since the end of the lockdown. He was greeted by the rabbi of the Western Wall and holy sites, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, and the director of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, Mr. Mordechai (Suli) Eliav who prayed with him for peace in the world in the face of the coronavirus pandemic affecting us and the residents of his country who are currently in the midst of an additional wave of the virus. Rabbi of the Western Wall and holy sites, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz wished the Minister and his country, “May you be able to quickly recover from the situation your country has been facing with the eruption of the second wave of the virus. This is a difficult time for you and for the entire world, but with the power of prayer and faith, we can succeed.” The Rabbi also noted that, “Many European leaders have not come to the Western Wall for prayer in the past, and in the past two years, there has been a marked change and many leaders from Europe have come here, and I bless this change. It contributes toward peace among the nations.”Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Luigi Di Maio said, “Many in Italy and in general have changed their relationship with Israel after coming to visit here or after a visit of their leaders in Israel.” He added that as he said to his friend, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, “When the vaccine reaches Europe, we will also take care of our friends here in Israel. We are good friends of Israel’s and we will continue to support and assist it.”The Director of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, Mr. Mordechai (Suli) Eliav presented the Jewish heritage and history of the site and told of the yearnings for Jerusalem throughout the generations. Minister Di Maio was very impressed and placed a note between the stones of the Western Wall.
The Bar Mitzvahs at the Western Wall today, October 29th, are dedicated in honor (zechut) of Raymond Diwan's Bar Mitzvah
In memory of Kotel staff member, Yehoshua Rachamim (Rachamimi) z”l
On Motzaei Shabbat Bereishit, we parted with a heavy heart from the last of a generation of giants, among those who renewed prayers at the Western Wall after we were privileged to return to it, with G-d’s grace, after the Six Day War.
R’ Yehoshua Rachamim, z”l, who passed away at a good old age and with a good name, was among the veterans of preservers of the holiness at the Western Wall. He was a modest and shy man who worked devotedly on behalf of worshippers at the Western Wall ever since its liberation.
In my mind, I can see Yehoshua’s energetic walk when he would arrive each and every day for his shift. Even when he got on in years, he maintained that quick walk that reminded me of the walk of the Temple’s kohanim. Whoever saw R’ Yehoshua arranging the bimot, lighting Chanukah candles opposite the Holy of Holies, or cleaning the Western Wall Plaza – saw the true significance of the term “meshamesh bakodesh”, one who serves in holiness. He was constantly busy with the needs of the public and his heart was full of praise and gratitude to Hashem for the privilege of doing so at this sacred site.
Yehoshua was one of the first diggers of the Western Wall Tunnels in the days following the Six Day War. The Western Wall Plaza then was very different from the beautiful and inviting one we see today at the foot of the Wall. And the Kotel Tunnels – only a very few people even knew of their existence. The Rabbi of the Western Wall then, Rabbi Getz zz”l, recruited a small and devoted group of young people who served as ushers at the Western Wall Plaza by day, and at night, they removed tons of earth from under the ancient arches, revealing the Western Wall stones that were hidden from view for centuries. In the merit of the work of those young people, we are privileged today to have thousands visit the Western Wall Tunnels to pray opposite the Holy of Holies and connect with the Jewish chain of generations. One of those young people was Yehoshua z”l. He also became deeply connected with Rabbi Getz zz”l, and every night he would come to his house in the Jewish Quarter to accompany him to Tikkun Chatzot (midnight prayers) that he would hold opposite the Holy of Holies.
R’ Yehoshua was entirely dedicated to his work at the Kotel. When his wife, a”h, passed away, he took upon himself to keep shabbat at the Kotel. Even in his later years, when he was older and walking was more difficult, he continued coming every Shabbat from his home in the Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood to the Kotel. The regular worshippers of the Kotel began to refer to him fondly as The President of the Kotel. But R’ Yehoshua never thought highly of himself or looked for honor and respect. He was never arrogant or conceited. There was no greater privilege in his eyes than the one given to him to prepare the wicks for the Kotel’s large menorah.
R’ Yehoshua’s passing is another parting from the generation of giants who were privileged to see the Kotel in its destruction and its renewal, and were partners to the great wonder of the Jewish nation’s return to its sacred site.
In the name of all who work at the Kotel and of the millions of its worshippers and visitors, I thank you, R’ Yehoshua. You were blessed to be so privileged and you were blessed to merit so many others. May we all be comforted by the rebuilding of Jerusalem.
An ancient limestone-made weight, dating to the Iron age – the First Temple period, was discovered in an archaeological excavation conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in conjunction with the Western Wall Heritage Foundation beneath Wilson’s Arch.
. Adjacent to the Western Wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The weight, corresponding to the known measurement unit of two shekalim, was retrieved during sifting of earthen fills by the City of David sifting project. The excavation is nearing its completion, unearthing fascinating discoveries soon to be included in the tour of the Western Wall Tunnels. Mordechai (Suli) Eliav, director of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation: “How exciting, in the month of Tishrei, whose symbol is the scales of justice, to find a souvenir from the First Temple period. Actually now, when coming to the Western Wall is so restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic, this finding strengthens the eternal connection between the Jewish nation, Jerusalem, and the Western Wall while offering us all encouragement.”According to Dr. Barak Monnickendam-Givon and Tehillah Lieberman, directors of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority: “The weight is dome-shaped with a flat base. On the top of the weight is an incised Egyptian symbol resembling a Greek gamma (γ), representing the abbreviated unit ‘shekel.’ Two incised lines indicate the double mass: two shekalim. One of the uses of the shekel weight system during the First Temple period was to collect an annual tax of half a shekel dedicated to the sacrifices and upkeep of the Temple. According to previous finds, the known weight of a single shekel is 11.5 grams, thus a double shekel should way 23 grams – exactly as this weight does. The accuracy of the weight attests to advanced technological skills as well as to the weight given to precise trade and commerce in ancient Jerusalem. Coins were not yet in use during this period, therefore accuracy of the weights played a significant role in business. Year-round and especially during the times of pilgrimage, the area at the foot of the Temple Mount was sure to be busy. Locals and pilgrims would have traded for sacrifices and offerings as well as for food, souvenirs and other commodities. A weight such as the one discovered would have been used to measure accurate amounts of products at the market.”
During previous archaeological excavations beneath Wilson’s Arch, directed by Dr, Joe Uziel, Tehillah Lieberman and Dr. Avi Solomon, several stone courses of the Western Wall were exposed, after being covered with earthen fills some 1800 years ago. The renewed excavation continues the previous discoveries of the preceding dig. “The unique finding from the First Temple Period, discovered in a context dating several centuries later, to the Roman period, indicates that the area of the Western Wall encapsulates various remains from a wide range of periods reflecting the centrality of the area for many centuries” added Dr. Monnickendam-Givon and Lieberman.Photographer: Shai Halevi, Israel Antiquities Authority
In light of the government’s decision to tighten the lockdown for the near future, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation will be broadcasting Shacharit, Mincha, and Maariv prayer services daily and Chol Hamoed Sukkot. Following are the prayers times for the days between Yom Kippur and Sukkot, the 11th to the 14th of Tishrei (September 29th to October 2nd):8:30 am – Shacharit morning prayers (shemoneh esreh 8:52 am)6:10 pm – Mincha afternoon prayers (shemoneh esreh 6:13 pm)6:50 pm – Maariv evening prayers (shemoneh esreh 6:56 pm)The prayers will be broadcast on the Western Wall Heritage Foundation’s website and Facebook page and on the designated phone number: 02-301-1133.Names for Mourner’s Kaddish can be sent through the website:
Or by WhatsApp: 052-307-7788 (Please note this number is not open to calls.)Note only the name of the deceased and his/her father’s name.
Kaddish will be recited for the deceased until and including Wednesday. If there is a need to continue saying kaddish for the deceased after Wednesday, please reregister. “Avinu Malkeinu, Our Father our King, withhold the plague from Your inheritance.”
The Bar Mitzvah's in the Western wall September 17th are dedicatedto the honor (zechut) of Raymond Diwan's Bar mitzvah
“May the New Year and its blessings begin”: This is how the removal of prayer notes from the between the Western Wall stones looks on Erev Rosh Hashana 5781.The holidays of Tishrei will be celebrated amid the coronavirus pandemic in accordance with Health Ministry regulations, but great efforts will be made not to veer away from the site’s customs, albeit with a symbolic and limited number of people.
As is traditional prior to Rosh Hashana, this morning (Wednesday), prayer notes placed between the stones of the Wall were removed, in the shadow of the coronavirus and the subsequent restrictions. The stones of the Wall were also sanitized in order to safeguard the health of visitors to the Western Wall.Prior to Rosh Hashana 5781, this year as well, the custom continued of removing the many prayer notes placed by visitors over the past summer months between the stones of the Wall. Notes were also sent from around the world in various ways. The notes were removed using gloves and disposable wooden tools by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation staff. They were then collected in bags that will be buried along with sacred books for “geniza” on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.Every year, over 40,000 notes are sent digitally via the Western Wall website. Since the eruption of the coronavirus pandemic in Israel, over 15,000 prayer notes have been sent from around the world, about 20% more than the same period last year.Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, rabbi of the Western Wall and holy sites, who accompanied the removal and sanitization process in person, offered a prayer in honor of the upcoming New Year: “We stand today on the eve of the New Year and pray to the Creator of the Universe that ‘the old year and its curses cease and the New Year and its blessings begin.’ We find great strength and comfort at the Western Wall during times like these, facing the sacred stones that survived hardships and have empowered us with faith that better days are ahead. We pray that He will remove from us the evil decree and we will merit coming to Jerusalem with joy, en masse, and renewing our days as of old.”