(PHOTOS IN EXTENDED ARTICLE)
In a rare occurrence, a stone fell near the Kosel on Monday morning, 11 Menachem Av, one of the stones in the area allocated for egalitarian prayer to accommodate the Reform and Conservative Movements. The stone fell near a woman visiting, causing damage to the platform below. B’chasdei Hashem there were no injuries.
Officials of the Antiquities Authority are handling the situation, which includes preventative measures to avoid additional stones falling or collapse in the area. As a result, the prayer balcony is temporarily closed, but the Plaza of the greater Ezras Yisrael section remains open and operational as usual.
Rav of the Kosel and Holy Sites, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz stated, “The fact that such a powerful event took place after the fast of Tisha B’Av, in which we mourned the destruction of both Batei Mikdosh, raises questions which the human psyche is too small to contain and requires soul searching.
“I thank HKBH for preventing a major disaster. The professional bodies will investigate the incident”.
PHOTOS: A woman who was nearly crushed by the massive stone that fell from the Kosel is seen davening, thanking Hashem for the miracle that occurred. . "I didn’t hear or feel anything until it landed right at my feet, ” said Daniella Goldberg, 79. . . She said she was praying at the site, as she does regularly, when suddenly the boulder crashed down. She told Hadashot TV news she “tried not to let the incident distract me from my prayers” and refused to be drawn on whether divine providence had spared her. “May we all be blessed,” she said. The fallen boulder weighed about 220 pounds (100 kilos), Israel Radio said.
A statement was issued by the Jerusalem Municipality: After the stone fell on the plaza of the Ezras Yisrael area of the Kosel, [Mayor] Nir Barkat, City Engineer Shlomo Eshkol, and representative of the Dangerous Buildings Unit arrived at the site. After consultations and in order to prevent danger, the city engineer issued a dangerous buildings order for the area and it was fenced closed in order to prevent any entry to it until the Antiquities Authority’s addresses the situation. In the coming days, the Antiquities Authority will conduct a mapping of the stones in order to preserve them and remove any danger.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said that “a great miracle occurred this morning when the stone, weighing about 100 kilos, fell near a female worshiper at the Ezras Yisrael section and she was unharmed.” I intend to ask the Prime Minister’s Office, responsible for the site, to increase periodic inspections carried out by the Antiquities Authority at the Kosel and Ezras Yisrael area, as well as to the southern wall area, in order to prevent a process of disintegration and to ensure that the wall can be approached without risk.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem/Photo Credit: Old City Development Company)