The ire of Israel’s Archeological Council was voiced in a letter warning of great damage to Western Wall heritage site, should the decision to expand the prayer area for Conservative, Reform & mixed-gender prayer be allowed at the planned designated area.
By Itay Blumenthal
Israel’s Archeological Council announced, in a letter that it sent on Monday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that it greatly opposes what it called “the major damage to the archeological park at the foot of the Western Wall”, the place where the government decided last January to establish an expanded prayer area for Conservative, Reform and mixed-gender worship.
The harsh message followed a hearing that was held on the subject two weeks ago, and the hearing’s head, Prof. Roni Reich, explained that “this is a Jewish and world heritage site of primary importance. Preservation of the ruins is a prime archeological, public, educational and cultural duty.”
The Archaeological Council explained that “the archaeological park at the southern tip of the Western Wall now extends over less than 60 meters of the total length of the Western Wall. Immediately after the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, the area south of the Mughrabi Gate, known as Robinson’s Arch, was designated for uncovering and displaying the ruins of Jerusalem’s past. This was done to distinguish it from the prayer area at the Western Wall. For decades Prof. Benjamin Mazar and others excavated here, and found very well preserved impressive artifacts from the Second Temple period.”
Professor Mazar explainsed that “the highlight here is the entirely preserved cobblestone street along the Western Wall, flanked by shops that served the pilgrims to the Temple Mount. On the street and the shops a landslide of huge blocks of the Wall that was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD were revealed.”
“This is the only place you can see and can touch the remains of the destruction that befell the people of Israel, which is commemorated with the yearly fast on Tisha B’Av. The remains of this landslide have immense educational and historical value. ”
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