Little Western Wall
The Little Western Wall, also known as HaKotel HaKatan (or just Kotel Katan) and the Small Kotel, (Hebrew: הכותל הקטן), is a Jewish religious site located in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem near the Iron Gate to the Temple Mount. The wall itself dates from the Second Temple period, (516 BCE – 70 CE). It is the continuation of the larger part of the Western Wall and almost exactly faces the Holy of Holies. HaKotel HaKatan is not as well-known and not as crowded as the larger part of the Western Wall. This section of the wall is of deep spiritual significance because of its close proximity to the Holy of Holies. However, it is not the closest location to the Holy of Holies, as there is a location in the Western Wall Tunnel which directly faces the Holy of Holies.
Unlike the more famous Western Wall, the Kotel Katan does not have a large plaza facing it, by which it resembles quite exactly the situation of the Wailing Wall until 1967. It is a narrow alley and only the two lowest courses (rows of building stones) date from the Second Temple period. Unlike those on the Western Wall, the stones have not been worn smooth by the touch of millions of worshippers. The Kotel Katan resembles the Western Wall as it appeared before the Six Day War. After it was recaptured by Israel, the Western Wall plaza was expanded to its current size.
The passage alongside the wall is a courtyard of Ribat Kurd, a hospice for Muslim pilgrims founded in 1293 or 96 by Sayf al-Din Kurd al-Mansuri, a mamluk of Sultan Qalawun. The entrance portal and passage are original, but other parts of the structure date from later periods.
Because the Kotel Katan is much closer to the site of the possible location of the Holy of Holies than the larger Western Wall, it has significance to Jews, who wish to continue to pray at the site.
1971 tunnelling damage
In late 1971, extensive tunnelling along the wall by the Israeli Department of Religious Affairs caused the partial collapse of Ribat Kurd. The Department sought to take advantage of the situation by demolishing the 670-year-old structure to create a new plaza, but backed off after an international outcry. Instead, repairs consisting of a concrete buttress and steel supports were undertaken. During the repairs, workmen drilled some small holes in the Haram wall. This caused protests from Haredi Jews, who collected the fragments of stone and ceremoniously buried them at the Western Wall.
In the news
In October 2011, a group called Kotleinu ("our wall") and another group known as Legal Forum for the Land of Israel[he] petitioned the government to include the Katan as part of the Law for the Protection of Holy Places as it is recognized as part of the Western Wall. The groups advocate for cleanup and the placement of benches, prayer books and an ark for the Torah be permanently placed at the site.
On Rosh Hashana in 2006, a young Jewish boy was arrested for blowing a shofar (ceremonial horn instrument) while at the wall. The Muslim occupants of the area complained to the police for the breach of the peace and the police warned the boy to stop blowing the shofar in that area and instead invited him to do so at the main area of the Kotel in the Western Wall Plaza. The boy refused to obey the order of the police and continued to blow the shofar at the Kotel Katan. The police arrested the boy and seized his shofar. They let him go after three hours of questioning, keeping the shofar. He was admonished not to visit the area for 15 days. The boy later sued the police for wrongful arrest and theft of the shofar.
In 2012, the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court ruled against the boy and in favor of the police on both issues, determining that the actions of the police were "legitimate".
- M. H. Burgoyne (1973). "The Continued Survey Of The Ribāt Kurd/Madrasa Jawhariyya Complex In Ṭarīq Bāb Al-Ḥadīd, Jerusalem". Levant. 5: 12–35.
- Meron Benvenisti (1996). City of Stone. University of California Press. p. 89.
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