“Small Kotel” near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem opened for Jewish prayer

It was reported a few days ago that renovation work was taking place at the Kotel haKatan (the Small Wall) in preparation for opening the small courtyard for Jewish prayer. Today, Haaretz reports that the site has been opened.

Here is a description of the site:

The Kotel Ha-Katan is a small portion of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, which is exposed (with no houses covering it).  It is located approximately 200 meters north of the Western Wall Plaza, and next to Sha’ar Ha-Barzel (the Iron Gate).  The Kotel Ha-Katan is close to the middle point of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, and it is the place second closest to the Holy of Holies (outside of the Temple Mount) where Jews can pray.  The closest location is within the Kotel Tunnels, and is exactly facing the Holy of Holies.

Orthodox Jews praying at the Kotel haKatan - photo Dror Avi

The wall shown in the picture is certainly part of the Western Wall, but the large stones are not Herodian. The Western Wall tunnel runs below this plaza and there Herodian stones can be seen. In most places along the Temple Mount walls these Umayyad (Early Muslim period) stones are visible above the Herodian masonry, see this previous post. They were placed there in the beginning of the eighth century AD, after the El Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock were built. During that time the destroyed Herodian walls were repaired with large stone blocks, which lack the typical Herodian margins. These stones were often reused ashlars taken from large Byzantine churches nearby, such as the Nea Church.

It is ironic to see that Haaretz is worried about a strong reaction from the Waqf (the Muslim religious trust), while the praying Jews are apparently oblivious to the fact that they are touching stones laid by Muslims, which may have been taken from a destroyed Christian church, in order to repair the ancient Jewish Temple Mount walls.

9 thoughts on ““Small Kotel” near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem opened for Jewish prayer”

  1. While there may be some irony, the Jews who pray at the site are not concerned about the origin of the particular stones (and may not be oblivious to it) but are concerned about the location, as noted in the Yeshiva Ateret Yerushalayim’s description that you cited, “The Kotel Ha-Katan is close to the middle point of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, and it is the place second closest to the Holy of Holies (outside of the Temple Mount) where Jews can pray.”

  2. I’m sorry for the delay in getting back to you.
    The comment was definitely not meant for you but for those who might possibly get the wrong impression about Jewish prayer practices and the reason for the choice of the location. It’s not the stones but the closeness to where the Holy of Holies stood in the Temple.
    Be well!

  3. What about the one inside the tunnel? Are people allowed to go in there to daven, or is that area only open to the tour groups? Personally, I’d feel safer visiting that location than Kotel Hakatan in the Muslim quarter.

  4. Yosef,
    The area inside the tunnel at the Western Wall Plaza and below Wilson’s Arch has been open to prayer and visits for a long time. About the Kotel Hakatan area, I would share your concern about safety.

  5. There is now an Israeli security post at the entrance to the Kotel Hakatan. Perfectly safe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.