Photo: AP
Jerusalem's Western Wall
Photo: AP

Cabinet to approve Western Wall renovation

Plan to renovate and encourage visitation and bar mitzvah ceremonies at Western Wall valued at NIS 68 million; allocated budget will aim to increase bar mitzvahs at site

The government is set to approve a multi-year plan developed by the Prime Minister's Office to renovate the Western Wall complex, Israel's leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported Sunday.


The plan is valued at approximately NIS 68 million (USD 14.7 million).


As part of the development, the complex will undergo a series of renovations and a number of projects will be established, including a modern visitors' center, a new police station, information center and new entrance to the site.


The government is to be presented with a police report showing an all-time high of 5 million people who visited the site in 2005. The Prime Minister's Office is hoping the renovation will bring about an even greater increase of traffic to the site.


In addition, every Israeli student and soldier will visit the site at least once during their school years and army service, in a bid to boost the younger generation's connection to its Jewish heritage.


The government will also encourage holding bar and bat mitzvahs at the Wall and within two months, the government-run Western Wall Heritage Foundation is set to launch a media campaign encouraging citizens to celebrate at the wall.


'Assistants for free'


The plan was developed after research showed that very few Israeli children celebrate their bar mitzvahs at the Wall, as their families do not known how to go about organizing such an event.


"We will provide every family with an assistant who will help them with all their requests, such as prayers, laying tefilin and conducting the service. It will be for free, subsidized by the state,” Jerusalem's Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz said.


"Assistants from all ethnic backgrounds will be available: Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Yemenite, Persian, etc," he said.


Furthermore, new parking arrangements will forbid the entry of private vehicles into the complex, except for the handicapped and the ill who will be able to present the appropriate medical documents at the entrance and enter to pray for their recovery.


Jerusalem's municipality is even considering closing off the Old City to private vehicles during the day.


Rabinowitz praised the Prime Minister's Office's decision to allocate a budget for the development of a number of services at the complex, in a bid to encourage visitation to the holy site.


"The Western Wall is the Jewish nation's spiritual center," he said. "Without a connection to the past it will be very difficult to march into the future." 


פרסום ראשון: 12.11.05, 14:12
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