Holy Land Pilgrimage in the Footsteps of Jesus



                   FIRST KINGS 8:39                                 

Holy Sites -- Gila's Highlights

Let's tuck a prayer into the Western Wall

Legend has it that when Solomon cast lots to apportion the “fund-raising” for the building of the Temple, the princes and rulers were responsible for the cupolas, pillars and steps; the priests and Levites the Ark and the curtain upon it; those mighty in wealth, the eastern side; and the poor and the needy, the western wall.

The princes and rulers and the rich took golden earrings from their wives and their daughters as well as all their precious jewels to buy cedar wood to cover the walls, cypress wood for the doors and olive wood for the lintels.  They hired laborers from Sidon and Tyre and the work was completed.  Then the priests from the house of Aaron and the Levites completed the decorations for the Ark and its veil.
But the work of the poor was delayed.  They could import neither materials nor labor from abroad.  The men, women and children, themselves, hewed stone and toiled with the sweat of their brow until the Western Wall was completed.
When the Temple stood upon its height, perfect in its beauty, the divine Presence descended and rested upon it.  The Lord chose the Western Wall, saying, “This wall finds favor in my eyes, for it was built by the hands of the poor and the needy.  My Presence will never depart from the Western Wall.”

Prayer by the Western Wall

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Praying by the Western Wall -- note the notes tucked into the Wall

So when the House of Glory was destroyed, the angels of the Most High descended and spread their wings over the Western Wall, proclaiming, “Never shall the Western Wall be destroyed.”

Although today’s Western Wall dates from the time of Herod, a thousand years after Solomon, Jews believe to this very day that the Divine Presence resides in the Western Wall.  Thus every prayer request tucked into the wall goes right up to the heights of heaven.

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Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Praying in the "Women's Section" of the Western Wall

Several times every year, letters addressed to God, Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel, are collected by Jerusalem’s postal service and deposited at the Western Wall. But it’s best to come in person to deliver your request. Any kind of request is acceptable, say the rabbis, as long as its fulfillment carries out a good deed or commandment. For example, a person could slip in a request to win a million dollars – as long as s/he would give a good percentage to charity.
In the Turkish times during a drought, the authorities would submit a formal request for the rabbis to pray for rain at the Western Wall.  During the 1878 Russo-Turkish War, groups of rabbinical students, escorted to the Western Wall by a military guard of honor, prayed for the success of the Turkish army.
Around sunset every Friday, as the Sabbath descends upon Jerusalem, one can see today’s black-jacketed rabbinical students singing and dancing on their way to pray by the Western Wall. You’re even invited to join them if you have mastered the words to Ode Avinu Chai!

Friday afternoon at the Western Wall

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Right before the Sabbath at the Western Wall

Another moving vista is at sunrise, Shavuot, that is, Pentecost, when tens of thousands of Jewish pilgrims all dressed in white walk to the Wall, after a night of studying the Book of Ruth.  During the second day of the pilgrim holidays, Passover and Tabernacles, cohanim or priests from the lineage of Aaron cover their eyes and bless the multitudes of pilgrims with the ancient Priestly Benediction, as dictated by the Almighty in Numbers 6 verses 24 to 26.

Western Wall during Sukkot or Tabernacles

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Western Wall during Tabernacles


Western Wall during the Priestly Benediction Passover 2005

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Priestly Benediction at the Western Wall during Passover 2005

My most memorable experience at the Wall was watching my nephew receive his gun and a Bible in the evening swearing-in ceremony for paratroopers inducted into the Israel Defense Forces.  Tucked in his Bible was a letter saying, “Open to Zechariah 4 and read verse 6.”

“Not by might nor by power, but by my spirit says the Lord of hosts.”

Why don't you come to Jerusalem this coming year and tuck your own personal prayer into the Western Wall, as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims have done over the centuries?

400 descendents of holocaust survivor gather at Western Wall


In the above photo 400 descendents of holocaust survivor Shoshanna Ovitz descend on the Western Wall (behind them) to celebrate her 104th birthday in August 2019
Postscript:  Pilgrims talk about visiting the Western Wall
"I seem to remember as a young child seeing photos in National Geographic or Life magazine of Israeli soldiers praying at the Western Wall after it was liberated in the 1967 war.  Even as a child I was interested in history, and had read a great deal about the Holocaust and the recent history of Israel.  Israelis having access to the Western Wall represented to me something very basic about fair play.

Since then I have come to understand, as I think many Christians have, the importance of the Western Wall to Jews and consequently, to Christians. Sometimes
I don't realize how important things are to me until I realize how important they are to my brothers and sisters.

The odd thing about going to the Western Wall is that I had no great interest in visiting Israel until I started listening to Michael Medved and, occasionally, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, on the radio.  I learned so much about the basis of my own faith as a Christian from these two Jewish men that, when Michael announced his tour, I felt compelled to go.

That's how I found myself one day at the Western Wall.  It seems in one sense odd to have ended up there - the accidental pilgrim, if you will - but having been there, I can think of no place else I would have rather gone.  Being able to lay my hands on the Western Wall was part of a 40-year journey I didn't even know I was on.  It was nothing less than awe inspiring."  Paul Spring, Portland, Oregon

Tuck your prayer request into the Western Wall

Photo:  Paul Spring

The "accidental pilgrim" at the Western Wall

"No words are needed at the western wall. I had stepped on a chair to find a spot to fit the paper with my prayers; as I turned around two other women whom I had never met handed me their prayers, so I could find a place for them as well.  I did not need to know their religion, ethnicity or country of origin; we all shared a common faith in God, and sent our prayers to Him."  Larissa Rodgers, Phoenix, Arizona


Putting a prayer request into the Western Wall

Photo:  Joan McKeon

Larissa Rodgers tucking a prayer request into a crack in the wall

Ask Gila:  What happens to the notes placed in the Western Wall?  
Right before Passover, April 2023, with gloves and wooden utensils, Western Wall staff removed 30,000 notes (!) from between the ancient stones of the Western Wall along its entire length including the Western Wall Tunnels.   The removal is carried out in accordance with rabbinic guidelines, with the goal of making room for new notes from tourists and visitors who are expected to arrive in Jerusalem in the coming months.
The notes were collected in sacks and will be buried together with worn holy books that are transferred to a designated genizah. (A genizah is a storage area in a Jewish synagogue or cemetery designated for the temporary storage of worn-out Hebrew-language books and papers on religious topics prior to proper cemetery burial.) Where are the notes are finally buried, you may ask?  I will show you when we are on tour.
The rabbi custodian of the Western Wall and holy sites personally supervised the note removal, as he does every year, and prayed for the Unity of Israel and for the tens of thousands of visitors who placed their prayers between the ancient stones.
The custom of placing notes in the Western Wall was recorded already three centuries ago by the venerated Moroccan Rabbi and Kabbalist, Haim ibn Attar.
In addition to the hundreds of thousands of notes that are personally tucked between the stones by visitors, an average of about 3,000 notes are sent each month through the Western Wall Heritage Foundation’s website. The top countries from which the highest number of notes were sent are the U.S., Brazil, Colombia, Russia, and Canada.
But it’s best to come here and place your notes in person!

Military honor guard in front of the Western Wall on Remembrance Day 2023

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Military honor guard in front of the Western Wall on Remembrance Day 2023

Note the Israeli flag is at half staff

Copyright 2006, 2015, 2019, 2023 Gila Yudkin.  Permission needed for any reuse.

Gila Yudkin, who calls herself a Connecticut-born Yankee living now in King David's court, has been bringing pilgrims to tuck their prayer requests into the Western Wall at all hours of the day and night for three decades.

If you are coming to Jerusalem by yourself and plan to visit the Temple Mount, Gila's MP3 Temple Mount audio tour will expose you its many facets:  Jewish, Christian, Muslim plus archeological, historical and legendary.  Tour the Temple Mount in the company of Abraham and Isaac, David and Solomon, Jesus and the disciples, Mohammed and the archangel Gabriel.

Gila's Temple Mount tour is also available as a written 24-page PDF with a Temple Mount plan, guidelines for passing the security check and ten recommended reads on the Temple Mount from Gila's bookshelves.


More on Jerusalem:

Let's read Luke 2 by Robinson's Arch

Let's orient ourselves to Jesus' Jerusalem

Ask Gila about excavations on the Temple Mount

Robinson's Arch   

Model of Jesus' Jerusalem

Temple Mount


Headliner Teddy Kollek established the Biblical Zoo

Veronica's handkerchief    

Teddy and the biblical zoo

Absalom's Tomb

If you are planning to come solo (or duo) to Jerusalem soon, then you may want to check out Gila’s 2023Explore Jerusalem’s Soul” for the Top Ten places to meditate on the Bible, the Top Ten little-known churches, the Top Ten rewarding Roof-Top views and the Top Ten places for sampling Middle Eastern soul food.  Pick and choose among 40 sites according to your temperament, time frame, impulse and imagination, to make every minute matter during your Jerusalem visit.

Tour the Temple Mount in the company of Abraham and Isaac, David and Solomon, Jesus and the disciples, the angel Gabriel and Mohammed.  Meet many other luminaries, both real and legendary.

Now available as a written 24-page PDF with a Temple Mount plan, guidelines for passing the security check and the ten best reads on the Temple Mount from Gila's bookshelves.




Copyright © 2005-2024 Gila Yudkin. All rights reserved.
Holy Land Photography by Gila Yudkin