Being at the Kotel in the final moments of Tisha B’Av is fascinating. It’s packed with hungry religious Jews and there’s a mad rush to get to the front of the mob that is all reaching out to be handed some food to break their 25-hour fast.
Whilst I appreciate the importance of this day to the Jewish people, I personally struggle to fully connect to it. It’s hard to commemorate (in a meaningful way I mean) something that is so far removed from what it means to be Jewish today. Temple times are so central to Jewish history, yet so irrelevant to modern Judaism.
What was so interesting to see though, and this is true of most visits to the Kotel, was the diversity there. That’s one theme I think the photograph really symbolises. The Kotel today is such an Orthodox place - separate men and women (women section significantly smaller), predominantly Charedi visitors, etc. - yet all kinds of Jews, from all over the world and from more progressive backgrounds too, come to the Kotel, have a little pray or a think, touch the wall and maybe leave a note (to God?). All at a wall that was totally insignificant back in the day… just a structural wall of the Temple Mount. Yet there’s a definite spiritual feel to the place (maybe a totally man-made spirituality?) and as an attraction it’s as popular as ever.
Taken on 9th August 2011 at the Kotel (Western Wall) shortly after the end of the fast of Tisha B’Av.
Tisha B’Av is an important fast day in Judaism which commemorates the destruction of both the first and second temples, both of which occurred on the same date in the Hebrew calendar.
The Kotel is considered to be the holiest place for Jews. The Western Wall is all that remains of the second temple, which was destroyed in 70 CE.