Minister of Religious Affairs, Rabbi Yaakov Avitan, praying at the Western Wall and touring the new excavations in the Western Wall Tunnels
Tomorrow, Tuesday, Erev Rosh Chodesh (eve of the new month of) Av, on July 21, 2020, Yom Kippur Katan, there will be a special prayer service and recital of slichot (penitential prayers) for the end of pandemic and for livelihood for all of the Jewish people in Israel and around the world, as per the request of leading rabbis.Due to Health Ministry regulations, the prayer service will take place in the presence of only a minyan (quorum) and will be broadcast to communities around Israel and around the world. The event will take place in the presence of the Chief Rabbis of Israel, the Rabbi of the Western Wall, leading rabbis, and the Minister of Religious Affairs.We call upon the public to take part in the prayer service from home via the Western Wall cameras. The service can be watched on the Western Wall website or directly using the following link: https://youtu.be/Dvp8kgCuI-g
A Jordanian ammunition stash (known as a “slick”) was discovered today during Israel Antiquities Authority excavations under the lobby of the Western Wall Tunnels site. The ammunition was hidden in the bottom of a British Mandate period water cistern. The excavations are being conducted in cooperation with the Western Wall Heritage Foundation in preparation for a new and fascinating tour in addition to the classic Western Wall Tunnels tour. Israeli police bomb-disposal experts came to the site to examine the findings.
According to Dr. Barak Monnickendam-Givon and Tehila Sadiel, directors of the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority: “While excavating the water cistern, a surprise awaited us: about ten full magazines of Bern light machinegun , full clip chargers, and two bayonets of a British Lee Enfield rifle. Usually, in excavations, we find ancient findings from one or two thousand years ago, but this time, we got a glimpse of the events that occurred 53 years ago, frozen in time in this water cistern. Apparently, this is an ammunition dump that was purposely hidden by soldiers of the Royal Jordanian Army during the Six Day War, perhaps when the IDF liberated the Old City. The water cistern we excavated served the residential structures of the Moghrabi neighborhood that was built in the area of what is today the Western Wall Plaza”, added Dr. Monnickendam-Givon and Sadiel.
Assaf Peretz of the Israel Antiquities Authority, who identified the ammunition: “This is ammunition that was produced in Britain in the Greenwood and Batley Ltd factories in Leeds, Yorkshire. Based on theheadstamp on the rim, the ammunition was produced in 1956 and reached the Royal Jordanian Army.” “The discovery of the ammunition stash for Bern light machine gunsguns match two other Bren guns that were found about a year and a half ago in a different water cistern in the Western Wall Plaza, in an excavation of Dr. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah of the Israel Antiquities Authority”, added Peretz.
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation said: “Along with other glorious discoveries of our nation's past from the Second Temple period, we are also happy about discovering findings from the war of this past generation to return the Jewish nation’s heart and be able to cling to the stones of the Western Wall. This discovery is a privilege for us – to be able to acknowledge the miracles of the Creator of the Universe at this site.”
About a month ago, the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Western Wall Heritage Foundation publicized that an interesting subterranean network hewn into bedrock from the Second Temple period was uncovered in an archaeological excavation at the foot of an impressive 1400-year-old public structure.
As part of the visit of the Prime Minister of Greece to Israel, his wife, Mrs. Maria Grabowski and his son, Mr. Konstantinos Mitsotakis came for a personal visit and to pray at the Western Wall. This is the first official visit since the coronavirus outbreak
We invite you to experience a journey that begins with the destruction of the Second Temple in the year 70 CE and continues through incredible adventures experienced by the Jewish nation for over 2,000 years. On this journey, you will visit almost every spot on the globe, pass through the most significant events in history, and then end up back at your starting point – the Western Wall.The Journey to Jerusalem on the internet is not just any old historical blog. This is an interactive trip that will allow each and every one of you to participate. This is going to be a moving, challenging, and fascinating trip like no other.The Journey is based on in-depth historical research, dramatic film clips and recreations that bring this epic story to life. It shows the diverse history of the Jewish people – from the vantage point of someone young (but not too young), cool, and curious. The rich, unique content of this journey is designed so that each of us can take this journey, from anywhere at any time.
Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Ms. Omer Yankelevich, praying at the Western Wall and meeting with the rabbi of the Western Wall and holy sites, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz.The Minister visited the recently exposed excavations with the director of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, Mr. Mordechai (Suli) Eliav.
The scientific analysis of a handful of charred seeds leads scientists to the date of the ancient arch.
Who built Wilson’s Arch? It wasn’t Charles Wilson, a British ordinance surveyor in and around Jerusalem toward the end of the 19th century. The arch, partially visible to all visitors to the Western Wall, has been a prominent fixture in Jerusalem’s landscape for centuries. Some have thought it was originally constructed around the turn of the common era by the Roman king Herod – one of the great builders of history – but others had assigned it a later date, believing it was erected in the Early Islamic Period, some 600 years later. This research was published earlier this week on science magazine.
Prof. Elisabetta Boaretto and Dr. Johanna Regev of the Weizmann Institute of Science’s Scientific Archaeology Unit spearheaded the chronological research of a recent archaeological excavation conducted with the expressed aim of solving the Wilson’s Arch riddle. The excavation, located in the Western Wall Tunnels, was led by archaeologist Dr. Joe Uziel, Tehillah Liebermann and Dr. Avi Solomon, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and undertaken by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation as part of the tourist development of the site.
The Weizmann Institute researchers have been perfecting methods of “micro-archaeology” to characterize the layered deposits and to then determine the connection between any sample that is dated and the archaeological event to be dated, in great detail. “For this project we had to develop a very specific strategy, starting by being in the excavation itself,” explains Boaretto.
Prof. Boaretto explains that conducting archaeological research on urban structures like Wilson’s Arch, and in particular determining its age, is much more complicated than in almost any other archaeological setting. In an urban center that is still occupied over 2,000 years later, the structures might be used for centuries, components may have been reused, parts of the structure torn down and rebuilt, and the stones themselves keep their secrets close. Absolute dating of architectural structures, as opposed to relative dating based on pottery and coins, is particularly important to correlate with existing texts and with historical figures. It is little wonder, then, that the history of Wilson’s Arch has remained elusive.
One of the key materials the group sought in Wilson’s Arch was remains of the mortar or cement used between the stones. This material was produced at high temperatures and aggregates were added to acquire desired properties; thus, charred seeds can sometimes be found embedded in the plaster. So, the first challenge was to determine whether the charred material was indeed a constituent of the original plaster, and the next challenge was to determine if this plaster was part of the original construction or a later repair. Any seeds found under the bases of the large structures could also be dated and the dates of the seeds are assumed to be older than the construction. Every date obtained was thus the result of a mini-research project. Back in the D-REAMS (Dangoor Research Accelerator Mass Spectrometer) lab in the Weizmann Institute of Science, Boaretto and her team analyzed the plaster and the charred materials they removed from the dig site to study their composition and crystallinity and from there, to determine their age.
Seeds found between the large boulders of the arch returned dates prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, during the period when Jerusalem was governed directly by the Roman Procurators, the most famous of whom is Pontius Pilate.
According to Dr. Uziel of the Israel Antiquities Authority, "This comprehensive dating of the micro-remains provided an unequivocal solution to a lengthy archaeological riddle – the riddle of the date of Wilson's Arch.” The arch was part of a bridge which led worshippers to the Temple Mount and was built as part of the Western Wall of the compound some 2,000 years ago. Through this joint research project, we were able to determine that the arch, which supported one of the main pathways to the Second Temple, was built in two distinct stages. In its early days, during the rule of King Herod the Great or slightly afterwards, the bridge was 7.5 meters wide. Just a short time later, in the first century CE, the width of the bridge was doubled, reaching a width of 15 meters. “The size and workmanship of the arch attest to the importance of the Temple Mount during the days of the Second Temple, when thousands of people would have taken part in the ceremonies, particularly during holidays,” he adds.
The archaeological team also worked on dating another piece of Jerusalem’s history -- a small theater-like structure constructed beneath Wilson's Arch. The radiocarbon dating indicates that the theater's construction was most likely initiated just before a historically significant date -- the outbreak of the Second Jewish Revolt in 132 CE, often known as the Bar Kochva revolt – and not later than Hadrian's death. Ultimately, the group dated 33 samples from many different locations, covering a period of over 1000 years.
“The Wilson’s Arch riddle could not have been solved without the use of micro-archaeology,” says Boaretto. “We showed that the extreme accuracy of our lab results, even for the tiniest of samples, can resolve these issues with a high degree of certainty, and we think they might help solve other archaeological puzzles for which radiocarbon dating had not previously been considered to be sufficiently precise.”
“From an arch built by Herod, to a theater complex abandoned before it was completed as a consequence of the Bar Kochba revolt, you can take a fresh look at the city's history and place this monumental building in its proper historical setting. That certainly helps solve this riddle,” she says.
Bringing the Western Wall Home A variety of activities and films for the whole family so you can sense the Western Wall from home.
We are happy to report that this week, many worshippers returned to pray at the Western Wall, in accordance with the Israeli government’s decision and the cancellation of the restriction of praying only 500 meters from one’s place of residence.
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation is organizing the Western Wall Plaza in preparation for the arrival of worshippers this coming Shabbat. Last night, prayer areas were added to the upper plaza in addition to the prayer areas that had already been set up in the prayer plaza this week.
As of this Shabbat and the upcoming days – the updated allowance is for up to 500 worshippers at the Western Wall simultaneously. If the prayer areas that have been cordoned off will all become full, worshippers will be requested to wait outside of the entrances to the Western Wall until space becomes available.
Entrance to the Western Wall on weekdays is contingent on wearing a mask and having temperature taken prior to entering.
Returning to the Western Wall
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation announces that, due to the government’s decision to cancel the restriction of prayer only at a distance of up to 500 meters from one’s place of residence while maintaining the restriction of up to 19 people during prayer in an open area, the worshipers that have so yearned to visit the sacred stones and pray in front of them, can return to the Western Wall while keeping to the Health Ministry restrictions.
The Western Wall prayer plazas will be divided into as many prayer areas as possible in the given area and in accordance with the regulations.
For the next few days, up to 300 worshippers will be allowed to come to the Western Wall plaza simultaneously, contingent on them wearing masks. Should the prayer areas all get full, worshippers will be requested to wait outside the entrances to the Western Wall, with the required distances between them, until space becomes available.
Likewise, bar/bat mitzvah families can return to celebrate at the Western Wall in accordance with regulations. Families will have to coordinate their arrival in advance through the Western Wall website or hotline (*5958) to ensure that the prayer area will be available at the time of their arrival.
The sites of Western Wall Tunnels remain closed until further notice.
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, rabbi of the Western Wall and holy sites, congratulated the government on its decision.