For Jews, the Western Wall is arguably the holiest spot on the planet. It is the last remnant of the second temple, and tangible evidence of God’s promise that it “would never be destroyed”. Every year, millions make pilgrimage to the wall to pray in it’s presence. Despite it’s importance it has earned only one nickname from gentiles over the years: The Wailing Wall. This is of course in reference to both what is interpreted as the sorrowful devotional prayer of jews at the wall and recognition of the site as a place of mourning the temple’s destruction. Though this name is in many ways apropos, it is a bit glum. So I thought that I might offer my two cents as to some alternatives that might pep it up a bit. In addition, with the recent dip in tourism to Israel, these ideas might make the wall more of a hotspot.
1)The Great Wall of Israel: China’s got one. 2)The Western Wall-3D: Too long has this art form been confined to overpriced animated Pixar features. As soon as a visitor enters the old city, they are given a pair of glasses. Not only does it attract a new audience, but the slogan ‘See the Kotel for the first time….again’ brings back the old one. 3) Wild Wild Western Wall: Perhaps this involves some sort of Vegas style stage show that happens at various times during the day (excluding Shabbat). The story would loosely incorporate the Jewish-Roman war but with cowboys and indians. Pyrotechnics and audience participation is a must. Tagline: ‘Where the Wild West Meets the Middle East!’ 4) Disney Wall: This is a win/win partnership. Walt gets to make amends for his inflammatory behavior in the 1940s and Israel gets the benefits of one of the most powerful names in the world. The sales of Mickey mouse eared yarmulkes would skyrocket. 5)The Wishing Wall: Millions of people write down their prayers on a piece of paper each year and put them in the wall. Imagine if they did it with currency. 6)The Western Facebook Wall: I’m honestly not quite sure how this one would work but I do know that the play on words and the popularity of Facebook make it necessary.
Obviously my ideas are genius. They would bring more tourism and money than ever before to a region of the world that needs it. However, the fact they are not used (nor would they even be seriously considered) points to what is really important about this place. It is not a tourist trap. Since the destruction of the Temple in 70CE, Jews have been spread to every corner of the globe. But during the silent Amidah we turn towards Jerusalem. After all these years, this site remains the spiritual center of Judaism. It’s presence is a physical reminder of where we came from as a people, and that much like the wall we are still standing.