Kosel Gets its Own Vaccine

Pre-Pesach conservation work has already begun at the Kosel Hama’aravi in Yerushalayim. Experts used syringes to fill cracks in the walls.

Photos: Yaniv Berman, Israel Antiquities Authority

Amid Israel’s latest lockdown, pre-Pesach conservation work began at the Kosel on Monday, using injections with the aid of syringes very similar to those used by medical staff.

Every six months, before Pesach and Rosh Hashana, Western Wall Heritage Foundation engineers and Israel Antiquities Authority conservators conduct thorough inspections of the 2,000-year-old stones at the prayer plaza to ensure visitors’ safety.

The work carried out at the site is subject to religious strictures established by the rabbi of the Western Wall, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, in consultation with other leading rabbonim.

Mordechai (Suli) Eliav, director of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, says, “Although this year, people are increasingly ‘visiting’ the Western Wall virtually, we are already preparing for the return of visitors to the Wall.”

According to Yossi Vaknin, head conservator for the Israel Antiquities Authority in the Kosel area, “The Wall’s 2,000-year-old stones are subject to natural weathering and we are making sure to strengthen them. Our routine inspections enable us to track the condition of every single stone.”

Workers make sure not to drill into the stones, instead, they delicately inject dissolved stone into the gaps and fissures. Limestone-based grout is injected into the fissure as a liquid, and when dry, the crack is repaired.

One of the main contributors to the weathering of the Temple Mount’s walls is the ecosystem that forms an integral part of the landscape of the ancient Western Wall. “The Western Wall is a unique ecological environment that supports its own life forms,” says Vaknin. “A lot of plants have taken root in the Wall’s stones.”

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