The Western Wall in Jerusalem, also known as the Kotel, is the holiest place of prayer for the Jewish people. For centuries Jews have yearned to pray at the Kotel, a standing remnant dating back to the Second Temple period.
To get to the Western Wall today from the Jewish Quarter requires a fair bit of walking and descending about 140 stairs. In order to make the Kotel accessible to all, the government of Israel has invested in a $14 million dollar operation to build an elevator and an underground passageway that will lead from the “Misgav Ladakh” street in the Jewish quarter directly to the Kotel. The plan includes the construction of a 33-meter (108 feet) elevator shaft that will connect to a 65-meter (210 feet) pedestrian tunnel. The tunnel exit will lead to the current day Western Wall security checkpoint.
The elevator promises to dramatically increase access to the Western Wall and allow elderly and disabled people to reach the holy site more easily and safely. Yoav Galant, the Housing and Construction Minister in 2017 who proposed the project, said “Jewish values begin at the Western Wall – the heart of the Jewish people. At a time when there are those who try to undermine the Western Wall’s connection to the Jewish people as well as Israeli sovereignty, my colleagues and I are proud to lead the process of strengthening the presence of all Jews in this holy place, including making provisions for the elderly and the disabled.”
The project began just over two years ago in 2017. When the digging started, archeologists discovered an ancient aqueduct that led water to the Holy Temple. The aqueduct originates 21 kilometers (13 miles) away in Al-Arroub. It was constructed 2000 years ago in a momentous engineering feat that supplied water to Jerusalem.
It is estimated that the elevator will be completed by 2023. By all accounts, it is an impressive milestone that will bring the Western Wall closer to all who want to visit it.