Visiting the Kotel Hakatan - the most ignored sacred site in Jerusalem

On Friday, Mrs. Elder and I visited the Kotel HaKatan for the first time since 2007.

The famous Kotel, the Western Wall, only comprises a small section of the entire western wall of the foundations of the second Temple. Most of the wall is used for various Arab buildings in the area.

The most northern yet accessible part of the actual western wall is the Kotel Hakatan, a small area that is in fact even closer to the site of the Holy of Holies in the first and second Temples. It is the holiest site in the world that is freely accessible to Jews.

Yet it is almost always deserted.

Occasionally, some Jews organize a prayer session there, and Muslims complain about the "Talmudic rituals."

It is certainly more difficult to get to than the Kotel plaza. It is outside the security perimeter of the Kotel, and one has to walk through a section of the Muslim quarter to get there.

However, there is a police presence there that was not there when we visited nine years ago. There is a small police station as well as guards both at the entrance to the alleyway to get there and next to the adjacent Temple Mount gate (to ensure that no Jews walk into the Temple Mount itself. Really.)

There has been controversy there. A Jew who blew a shofar there was arrested by Israeli police in 2006, presumably to placate the Arabs who live nearby. But the incident was too similar to the days in the 1930s when the British would arrest Jews who blew the shofar at the Kotel.

The Kotel HaKatan is a hugely important part of Jewish heritage. Everyone should make a point of visiting it when they come to Israel.

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