We made our way from the Pool of Bethesda in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem through part of the Via De La Rosa back to the Jewish quarter and the Western Wall (also known as the “Wailing Wall”).
It is interesting to see the devout Jewish people coming to the wall to pray and read scripture. It is hard to think of a Christian equivalent, but that is only because I tend to think in terms of Protestant Christianity. If I were to include Orthodox or Catholic Christianity, there would suddenly become a plethora of equivalent locations. In fact, the several stations on the Via De La Rosa would serve perfectly.
The Jewish faith, like the Christian faith (and Islamic faith, for that matter), would have several different streams of thought and practice. There are Orthodox Jews, Conservative Jews, and Reformed Jews. Within those three main streams there are many sub-categories (similar to different Protestant denominations). Not every Jew would participate in the activity at the western wall. In fact, some Jews would NOT want to be so near to the glory of God because only the High Priest should be so near. Everyone else risks sudden death at the hand of God (it has happened before…)!
One thing that I have always found to be interesting is the notes that are stuck in the wall. I wondered what the idea is, there. Our guide explained that it was only 3 years ago that the Jewish population in Israel became larger than the Jewish population in the United States. This illustration helps to show that there are many Jews around the world who cannot make it to Jerusalem in their lifetime. Because of this, Jewish communities from around the world would often send a delegate from their community to Jerusalem to visit the wall and to pray on behalf of the entire community. They would carry notes with them from the people who were not able to make the trip, and they would place the notes in the cracks of the walls as a tangible way of those people offering their own, unique prayers to God.
The Western Wall is the closest physical location that Jewish people can get to the original location of Herod’s Temple. The Muslims who own and occupy the Temple Mount will not allow Jews to pray or do any non-Muslim religious activity inside of the Temple Mount walls (one of the members of our group was told by security to stand when taking a picture from his knees because it looked like he was attempting to pray!)
Interestingly, the Muslims claim that Herod’s Temple never existed. I guess they are not so much interested in history.