How to Dress Properly for the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem

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The Wailing Wall (also known as the Western Wall) in Jerusalem is the holiest site in Judaism because it is the only remainder of what is believed to be the temple destroyed in 70 AD by the Romans. Jews make pilgrimages to the wall to pray, lament the loss of the temple and place written prayers within the cracks of the wall. Jews and non-Jews alike are welcome to visit the wall and its adjacent plaza to pray and observe. Because it is considered holy ground, women and men must adhere to a modest dress code to approach the wall. According to Jewish tradition, there are different sections for men and women to pray at the wall.

Wailing Wall at night
(wailing wall - jerusalem old city at evening image by Pavel Bernshtam from Fotolia.com)
Step 1

Visitors to the Western Wall must enter the plaza adjacent to the Western Wall through one of few entrances with guards and metal detectors. Once you are cleared to enter, the plaza is an attractive gathering place paved with smooth stone matching the color of the Wall. An air-conditioned visitors' center is an excellent resource for non-Jews, as it plays informative films about the history of Judaism and the Western Wall. The center also has a museum dedicated to remembering the Holocaust of World War II and justifying the validity of the Jewish state. The Israeli flag flies above the plaza with Islam's Al-Aqsa Mosque in the background above the temple.

Israeli flag blowing in the wind
Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
Step 2

Women wanting to approach the wall to pray or observe may only do so wearing modest clothing. Though signs ask women to consider the holy nature of the place, some tourists insist on working on their tans. Appropriate clothing is neutral colored trousers and top with sleeves. If a female visitor is wearing a sleeveless shirt, there are dark-colored shawls available in a basket to wrap around her arms. If she is wearing a short skirt that reveals her legs, she will be asked to wrap a provided cover around her. The visitor need not feel self-conscious as many tourists wear the provided coverings. Once you are done visiting the wall, remove the shawl and skirt cover and return to the basket.

Woman wearing a shawl holds her baby at the Wailing Wall
Uriel Sinai/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Step 3

Men wishing to enter the prayer section of the wall are required to wear either a Jewish skull cap called a yamakah or kippah or a hat. Any hat will do as long as it fits the visitor's head and doesn't have overt decorations. If a male visitor does not have a hat, he may take a paper yamakah provided at the entrance to the prayer section of the wall. Males may also venture into a special prayer room exclusively set aside for Orthodox males who sometimes pray in the room for hours at a time.

Man wearing a yamakah
Galina Barskaya/iStock/Getty Images

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