Holiest of Jewish sites stands in sacred city of Jerusalem

The Western Wall sees hundreds of visitors daily

Published  4:57 PM HST Feb 10, 2013
JERUSALEM, Israel -

Volatile and sacred, the largest city in Israel holds sway as one of the most significant religious cities in the world.

Yet each person sees the ancient city in a different way.

For Christians, it is the place of Christ's crucifixion. For Muslims, the site of Mohammed's Night Journey and for Jews, the ancient capitol of King David's Israel. All agree, it is the holiest of cities.  

And the most sacred site in the Jewish faith is the wall.  It is the only remnant of the temple that once stood on this hill, known as Temple Mount. First called the "wailing wall", because it's name translates to place of weeping, it is called the Western Wall today, where prayers are said and heard.

"I feel something really special in my heart when I come here," described Jessica Krasnick, a former Israeli resident who has visited the Western Wall several times. "I feel really close to my history and my heritage. It's just a feeling that you get and it makes me feel holy as well, and part of something greater than myself."

Traditional belief dictates that several significant events in Jewish theology occurred on Temple Mount supported by the Western Wall. 

The creation of man, Abrahams sacrificial offering of his son, the vision of Jacob's ladder. All believed to have taken place at the Foundation Stone, housed today by the iconic golden dome that stands above and behind the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock. 

Everyday the plaza below fills with thousands of pilgrims from across the globe, eager to deposit prayer and chant at what once supported the now destroyed Second Temple.

But not every visitor shares the same transcendental experience as Jessica when they visit the site. 

"It felt special being at the site. I didn't feel any inner spirituality,  but it felt good in my heart to do it for the tradition," said Josh Smaller Swift, a Brooklyn resident visiting the wall for the first time.

What visitors to the plaza see is only a portion of the actual wall.  The majority of the stones extend further underground, reaching into layers of soil and rock no doubt, tread by the prophets and sages of three great religions.

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