The Western Wall Heritage Fund

Dear Parents,

We congratulate you for showing an interest in celebrating a Bar Mitzvah at the Kotel, the Western Wall, in Jerusalem. We want to help you in any way we can to create a meaningful and fulfilling experience for you and your son.
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation provides assistance in all aspects of organization of a Bar Mitzvah at the Western Wall.
In this guide, we will try to answer frequently asked questions. Please contact us with any question you may have. We can be reached at the phone numbers that appear at the bottom of this guide.

  • The Bar Mitzva Center at the Western Wall
    The center helps with information and services relating to:

    How to get to the Western Wall and where to park
    Prayer times
    Various customs
    Information about the prayer service and the Torah reading
    Lending of tefillin (phylacteries) and tallit (prayer shawl)
    A person who accompanies, assists, and explains the prayer service and putting on the tefillin
    Option of providing a chazzan (cantor) to lead the service and read the Torah
    Preparatory materials for the Bar Mitzvah child
  • How much does it cost to make a Bar Mitzvah at the Western Wall?
    The Western Wall belongs to the entire Jewish people and the entrance is free. There are independent people who come to the Wall and offer to assist families in organizing their event for a price.

    The Western Wall Heritage Foundation provides volunteers who will help you with all aspects of your Bar Mitzvah at the Wall.
  • What Should You Bring From Home for the "Aliyah", Going Up to the Torah?
    Putting on Tefillin (Phylacteries):
    In case, for whatever reason, you cannot purchase tefillin for your child, The Western Wall Heritage Foundation will loan you sets of teffilin for use during the prayer service. The Bar Mitzvah Center will be happy to help you with this.

    Sifrei Torah (Torah Scrolls):
    There are tens of Sifrei Torah available at the Western Wall for use by worshippers. They are located in the enclosed area of the Western Wall called "Wilson's Arch", to the left of the men's prayer section.

    Siddurim (prayer books) and Kippot (skullcaps, yarmulkes)
    There are siddurim (prayer books) available in all versions of Ashkenaz or Sefard. Temporary kippot, head-coverings and scarves are available as well, to make sure that the dress code is suitable to the holiness of the site. It is obviously better to bring a "real" head covering from material, but we leave this to your discretion.
  • The Prayer Service
    Jewish tradition maintains that the ceremony of putting on the tefillin and being called up to the Torah reading be done in a quorum of 10 men, during Shacharit (morning prayers) on Mondays, Thursdays, or on the day of Rosh Chodesh (the first day of the Jewish month).
    Often, if the child is not used to a longer prayer service, the family chooses to have the child only put on the tefillin, or get called to the Torah. In these cases, the prayer service is much shorter, and includes only the main parts of the service.
    Teffilin is not worn on Shabbat or Festivals (including the intermediate days of Passover and Succot). Therefore, if you've chosen to have the "aliyah" to the Torah on Shabbat, you can choose any weekday to put on the tefillin.
  • Guides that Accompany the Event
    We can provide a guide that will accompany you on the day of the event who can explain the options and the prayer service to you and your family.

    Yechiel Pomerantz (25), a medical student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is one of the guides in this project. "We speak to the family members, and try to ascertain what kind of ceremony they want. There is no coercion here. When I put on teffilin (phylacteries), I explain to the child what they are, why they are painted black, what the roots of the tradition are, etc. It is important to me also to explain to the Bar Mitzvah child what it means to accept responsibility. This is the ceremony that signifies his becoming a grownup."

    We would be happy to assist you in deciding what would suit your family most in marking this special event.
  • Prayer Times
    In principal, one can read from the Torah or put on tefillin any time during the day. Since traditionally, one reads from the Torah and puts on tefillin during Shacharit (the morning prayer), one must fulfill the mitzvah (commandment) by mid-day. "Mid-day" is determined according to the time of the year, and times of sunrise and sunset. Ask one of our representatives what is considered mid-day on the date of your Bar Mitzvah.
  • Planning the Day
    Keep in mind that many people throughout Israel, as well as the Diaspora, plan Bar Mitzvahs for Mondays, Thursdays, and Rosh Chodesh days, due to those being the days when the Torah is read. These are the more crowded days at the Western Wall - many families come to the Wall, and the limited parking in the area fills quickly. The crowded hours on these days are particularly between 9-11 am. The stringent security checks upon entering the Western Wall site take time as well. Please bear all these possible delays in mind as you schedule your day.
  • Men's and Women's Sections
    There are separate men's and women's prayer areas at the Western Wall. The prayer service takes place in the men's section. Often the question arises regarding how the mother or other female family members can participate in this moving event. We recommend having the Bar Mitzvah near the partition in order to allow the women to hear the service.
  • Prior to the Bar Mitzvah
    A Bar Mitzvah is a celebration of Jewish tradition and continuity, and a meeting between the past and the future. On the one hand, we have the traditional tunes and customs of the family, and on the other hand, the hopes and dreams for the future of a youngster who is the star of the show.

    In order for all family members to feel good about the Bar Mitzvah, and for it to be significant for the parents, grandparents, and of course for the Bar Mitzvah boy himself, we warmly suggest having a "family meeting" several weeks before the Bar Mitzvah. Knowing what is planned in advance prevents a lot of tension at the time of the event itself, and allows for an event that goes according to your wishes.
  • Seasons at the Western Wall
    On hot summer days, the sun beats down on the worshippers at the Kotel. We suggest preparing for this with hats, sunscreen and lots of water.

    On rainy days in the autumn or winter, the Torah scrolls are not removed from the enclosed area of the Wall. During those times, the service is held within the enclosed area of the Wall, at "Wilson's Arch". Women can take part in the service from the women's section there. This is a relatively small area, so there is a good chance that you may have to wait a bit until there is room.
  • Refreshments
    As of now, there is no place at the Kotel for serving refreshments, although we are working on organizing an area in the near future. Many families celebrate in the covered area on HaGai street in the Jewish Quarter, at the exit from the Western Wall Plaza. The Western Wall Heritage Foundation office can supply you with a list of halls and local area restaurants.
  • Touring the Western Wall Tunnels
    Many families decide to combine the Bar Mitzvah with a memorable tour of the fascinating Western Wall Tunnels. This tour shows the continuation of the Western Wall, exposed after being covered for over 600 years by houses in the Moslem quarter. This exciting tour is a journey through time that brings to life the archeology and history of the Wall through remnants and interactive models of the Second Temple. It is a moving culmination to a special day, showing our cultural heritage and connection to Jerusalem.

    There is a charge for the tour, led by experienced tour guides, and it is suitable for people of all ages. We strongly recommend reserving the tour well in advance, due to its popularity.
  • Having the Bar Mitzvah Child Lead the Tunnels Tour
    In this unique and challenging program, we invite the Bar or Bat Mitzvah child to be the guide for their family and friends on the amazing journey to the secrets held in the Western Wall Tunnels. By taking on this educational and historic responsibility, the child not only learns the history of this part of Jerusalem, but learns to convey it as well.

    The program includes several meetings between the child and Western Wall Heritage Foundation tour guides. During these meetings, the child becomes familiar with the archeology, history, and significance of the site. In addition, the child receives an educational unit to learn and practice alone or with members of his/her family. In this way, the child's family is involved with the preparation leading up to the special day and tour. Alternately, the child can receive assistance in preparing a sermon and presentation that includes a fascinating slideshow about the Western Wall and the Tunnels.

    On the day the child leads the tour of the Tunnels, a guide of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation accompanies the tour as well. However, the focus remains on the two stars of the day- the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child and Jerusalem.
  • Certificate
    Every boy that celebrates his Bar Mitzvah at the Western Wall gets a beautiful certificate suitable for framing, signed by the Rabbi of the Western Wall. This certificate attests to the fact that the child celebrated his special day at the most important place to the Jewish nation- The Western Wall.
  • How to Contact The Bar Mitzvah Center at the Western Wall
    Please call with any questions:
    Sunday - Thursday, 4pm - 7pm (Israel time) at 972 2 6271333
    Our address on the Internet:

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