The Western Wall Heritage Fund

Projects in Progress

The Abigail Jane Zuckerman Hall of Names (Educational Center)
 

The Eternal Chain of Generations

The Western Wall Heritage Foundation is proud to describe the new Educational Complex that will help make visiting the Western Wall an experience that lasts a lifetime.  The complex will include the Hall of Names, the Hall of Lights, From Jerusalem to Jerusalem Information Center and the Western Wall Heritage Center.

After a visit to the Tunnels, the visitor will enter the Hall of Names (the Educational Center), generously donated by Mort Zuckerman. Here, after having had the awesome experience of the Wall and understanding the depths of its historical importance in the Tunnels, we want him or her to feel a part of it. No longer will the visitor be a tourist seeing and hearing something that happened generations ago. Now we begin to integrate the visitor into the experience itself. We hope to do this by having the visitor "walk through history", almost in single file in order to enhance the personal nature of the experience. Glass columns, which are iridescent, yet clear in order not to detract from the feel of the space, will be etched with the names of the pillars of generations of Jews, dating from Abraham and forward. The message- "You are a link in the chain of generations" now becomes more tangible. You are a part of THIS chain of generations. Your identity did not begin with your birth, or even with the births of your direct ancestors. Your identity began thousands of years ago and is part and parcel of this chain, this place, these people.

The Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert Hall of Light (Visitors Center)
 
The Eternal Chain of Generations

As the visitor continues walking along the path of history, he arrives at the Hall of Light (the Visitors' Center), generously donated by Ira and Inge Rennert. Here, the message will be imparted as the visitor sits down in a circular fashion, with everyone facing a central space infused with lights and atmosphere. Here the story of one family- an illustration of the chain of generations- will emerge. In a unique, expressive, and moving manner, using the ambience of the room, and advanced technological means, the visitors will sit spellbound, listening to a narrative about several generations of a family who were linked by their yearning for Jerusalem. Starting with the generation of the Holocaust, through the generation of "aliya" to Israel, this story culminates with the offspring that take part in the liberation of Jerusalem in 1967. The theory behind this is that, again, the experience becomes personal. The visitor will be able to hear the generations that longed to come to Jerusalem and will identify with the generation that was blessed with the ability to be in Jerusalem. He will hopefully comprehend the torch that he has been handed. In an era when we are often bombarded with impersonal statistics and numbers, the engrossing story of one specific family that embodies the Jewish link to and yearning for Jerusalem is something the visitor will relate to and connect with.

Both of these areas, The Hall of Names and The Hall of Light, allow the stones to speak for themselves, while sharpening their message through means that a wide range of people would appreciate and be touched by.
The Jeanie and Jay Schottenstein Information Center
 
The Eternal Chain of Generations

The next stop following these experiences is From Jerusalem to Jerusalem (the Information Center), generously donated by Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein. This area will be located just several steps away and will be the next stage in making the visitor feel a part of Jewish history. The visitor, aided by an interactive computer program, traces his or her family's wanderings from Jerusalem, through the various stops around the globe that the family may have made due to historical events, leading back to Jerusalem. This emphasizes what we all have in common: We all began in Jerusalem and have now returned to Jerusalem.
The Western Wall Heritage Center
 
The Eternal Chain of Generations

The Western Wall Foundation has reached the conclusion that the entire Western Wall plaza and its surroundings should be developed as an integrated Educational Complex, combining experiential activities with in-depth learning. Presently in the planning and building stages are three primarily experiential components of this complex, which will be added to the Western Wall and Tunnels. These are:
  1. The Hall of Names (The Educational Center)
  2. The Hall of Light (The Visitors Center)
  3. From Jerusalem to Jerusalem (The Information Center)
  4. The Western Wall Heritage Center
The Western Wall Heritage Center
is being planned as the operational center of the complex. It is in this building that the totality of the Western Wall experience, all of the emotions and thoughts that emerge from the Wall, the Tunnels, and the other areas within the Educational Complex will merge into one powerful and clearly defined experience.

The Western Wall Heritage Center is intended to house the following components:
  1. The Foyer, or Sanctuary of Yearning, containing a gallery of precious Judaica
  2. Auditorium, for lectures, symposiums and conferences on Jerusalem
  3. Classrooms for in-depth study, to allow visitors to process their experience
  4. Pedagogical Center and Education Department, to act as a universal center of educational material pertaining to Jerusalem
  5. Reference Library, to contain every important source on or about Jerusalem
  6. Reception Hall, for visiting dignitaries from around the world
  7. Rooftop Observatory, for receptions and banquets
  8. Police and Magen David Adom stations, electricity room, etc…
This center will be the place where visitors and dignitaries (Israelis, Jews and non-Jews from around the world) can clarify, integrate, and internalize the legacies of the Temple, the Temple Mount, and the Western Wall. This will be done by generating discussion among the visitors, as well as between the visitors and their guides, which will implement the experience of visiting the entire complex.

This building will be as close as possible to the area enveloping the Western Wall and will be an inseparable part of it. It will be facing the Western Wall Plaza. Clearly, the location of the building directly facing the Western Wall makes it impossible to miss for the millions of visitors and dignitaries that come to the Wall. The effects that can be achieved within the walls of this building are unlimited.

To take part in the legacy of the Western Wall Heritage Center, call 212 725 0598. 
Special Tours for Sight and Hearing Impaired
 
Our desire is not only to continue offering what we have described in Programs on a greater scale, but also to expand the scope of those we bring to Jerusalem to experience it each in their own way. An example of this is the program we have now begun to offer for the blind. We have started this special tour earmarked solely for the sight-impaired. By capitalizing on other senses, such as hearing and touch, we illuminate Jerusalem. We are currently building an interactive model of the Temple that is especially geared for tactile understanding. We have developed means of elucidating the Tunnels for the blind, such as having the visitors throw pebbles into the Hasmonean water tunnel in order to hear the depth that they cannot see. We are also developing maps and other illustrative material in Braille. At the same time, we are developing programs and tours tailored for the hearing impaired, such as tours led by guides in sign language, and much more.

To help sponsor any of these meaningful and significant projects, call 212 725 0598. 
Renovation of the Prayer Hall of the Western Wall
 
The Prayer Hall at the Western Wall, at Wilson's Arch, is the easternmost vault of the Great Bridge that dates back to the Second Temple period. Hundreds of thousands of visitors and worshippers pass through this place 365 days a year. It is the only enclosed and covered area for prayer at the Western Wall.

After several years of restoration work, it has been decided to renovate and upgrade the central hall and the halls and rooms extending from it. By doing so, the hall would be able to serve as a comfortable and elegant enclosed prayer sanctuary as befitting a place of prayer so close to the holy Temple site.

The women's section of the prayer hall currently has enough room for only 20-30 women at a time who come daily to pray in this area. Likewise, in inclement weather, when Bar Mitzva ceremonies are held in the Wilson's Arch sanctuary, the small women's section is the only option available. Therefore, a plan has been devised to expand this vital area. New furnishings for the entire prayer hall are planned, as well as a proper air conditioning system and ample lighting, so that this sanctuary is both attractive and comfortable to sit in and pray.

The plan to make the sanctuary one befitting the prayer hall adjacent to the Western Wall includes designing and building a magnificent Holy Ark appropriate for such an extraordinary location. This would replace the arks that are in poor condition, many of which are not safe for holding Torah scrolls. Likewise, a room to contain the various Holy Arks that store the many Torah scrolls used on Mondays and Thursdays, Shabbatot and Festivals at the Western Wall will be built in one of the halls adjacent to the prayer hall.

A room designated for scribes who work at the Western Wall meticulously proofreading and emending Torah scrolls will be built in an ancient and beautiful internal hall adjacent to the prayer hall. In addition, another ancient hall will be renovated and refurbished to serve as a central library of holy books that should, undoubtedly, be near the remnant of our Temple. Our intent is to also devise and install stylized bookcases that will be designed specifically for storing the many books that are necessary in the prayer hall itself (prayer books, Bibles, books of Psalms, etc…) in various versions that exist and are used.

Due to all of the renovations and developments taking place at and around the Western Wall Plaza, a modern and advanced electricity room is planned that will be able to efficiently handle the load of the additional lighting and other electrical needs.

To help sponsor any of these meaningful and significant projects, call 212 725 0598.

Expansion of Women's Section of Western Wall Prayer Plaza
Renovations and Excavations at Ramp Leading to the Moghrabi Gate
 
The Western Wall Plaza and the area adjacent to the Western Wall were created following the Six Day War. As a result of this, the ramp leading to the Moghrabi Gate was formed. The Moghrabi Gate is important since it is the main entrance for visitors coming to the Temple Mount. Moslems going to pray use the ramp in order to enter the Temple Mount for their Friday prayer services. The ramp also serves the Israeli police force as an entranceway to the Temple Mount.

Since 1967, the ramp has been an ugly and obtrusive structure that dominates most of the Western Wall Plaza. Over the course of the years, the ramp has been filled with debris and has been supported by various retaining walls, all of which create even more of an eyesore.

Last winter, as a result of an earthquake and heavy rains, part of the ramp collapsed, endangering women who prayed in the adjacent women's section of the Western Wall Prayer Plaza.

The only solution for these issues is to take apart the current ramp and build a bridge or some other access to the gate. However, prior to dismantling the ramp, thorough archeological excavations must be carried out. It is distinctly possible that many important findings will be discovered at this site. Undoubtedly, the most important of these would be the complete exposure of Barclay's Gate, one of the four western gates that led to the Second Temple. We believe that it will be possible to uncover the gate's threshold along with the level of the streets from the Herodian period.

Visitors will be able to discover for themselves the structures Herod built to make it possible to enter the Temple Mount. It is also possible that part of the Uma'i Palace from the 8th century will be revealed. If so, it will be possible to uncover remnants from the time of the Crusaders, some of which have already been revealed on the southern side of the gate.

As part of the extensive work to be done at the site, for which permits have already been obtained, the covered area of the women's section at the Western Wall Plaza will be significantly expanded to the great benefit of the thousands of women who pray at the Wall.

In conclusion, the renovations at this site are necessary from the perspectives of its structural safety, the aesthetic value, and the advantage of expanding the covered section of the women's prayer area at the Western Wall Plaza. Moreover, the archeological excavations at the Moghrabi Gate will reveal significant findings and describe important periods of time in Jerusalem's history.

To help sponsor any of these meaningful and significant projects, call 212 725 0598.
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