August 4, 2023

Christians should approach the Western Wall with humility, not demands

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by Andrew Doran, Senior Research Fellow

JERUSALEM—A German Catholic abbot visiting the Western Wall was recently asked to remove his cross, which sparked a minor controversy here.

Tensions were already high. Jews welcome non-Jews to the Western Wall daily. All visitors must wear a kippah, and Christians are asked to remove or conceal crosses out of respect while visiting this sacred place, where Jews gather both to mourn the destruction of the Temple and to celebrate—their return to the land, the Sabbath, and holy days.

The Western Wall isn’t the most sacred site in Judaism, just the most sacred that Jews may visit. The most sacred is the Temple Mount, where the Holy of Holies is believed by many to be under the Dome of the Rock, though its precise location isn’t known. The Holy of Holies, within the Tabernacle, built over the rock of Isaac’s Binding in Genesis, housed the Ark of the Covenant.

Many Jews believe that the presence of God still dwells in the Holy of Holies, however, most rabbis forbid their congregants to visit the Temple Mount for fear they’ll inadvertently set foot on the Holy of Holies.