As Israelis line up to be inoculated, the Kosel isn’t left out of the quest for univeral good health and is being inoculated with preservatives ahead of Pesach, the Israel Antiquities Authority stated last week.
However, unlike Israel’s vaccination program against COVID-19, the Kosel’s inoculations regularly take place twice a year, ahead of the Yamim Noraim and Pesach.
Israel Antiquities Authority conservators and Western Wall Heritage Foundation engineers carry out a thorough inspection of the Kosel, examining every stone and inject grout into crevices using syringes.
The work is carried out according to halachic parameters established by the Rav of the Kosel, Rav Shmuel Rabinowitz, almost 18 years ago, following consultations with Gedolim, especially HaGaon HaRav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, z’tl.
“The Wall’s 2,000-year-old stones are subject to natural weathering and we’re making sure to strengthen them,” said Yossi Vaknin, the Israel Antiquities Authority’s head conservator in the Kosel area.
“Our routine biannual inspections enable us to track the condition of every single stone. We have an ‘identity card’ for each of the hundreds of stones in the plaza and monitor dozens of features. Our most recent survey revealed that it was necessary to treat the ‘peel’, or outer layer, of several stones. Our work on the historic wall is non-destructive. We do not drill into the stone, but 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. It is the best possible method of ‘healing’ the stones and the ultimate defense against weathering for the most important stones in the world.”
Vaknin added that the conservation work is carefully carried out in a way that won’t damage the Kosel’s unique ecosystem with its own life forms, including plants and birds.
“The Kosel is a unique ecological environment that supports its own life forms. A lot of plants have taken root in the Wall’s stones – particularly thorny capers, golden drops and golden henbanes. Added to this, many birds nest in the Kosel, including the common swift which arrives every year, ravens, and doves. As part of our conservation work, in recognition of the importance of the site’s unique flora and fauna, we also preserve this ecosystem while guaranteeing the stones’ stability, thus ensuring that the Kosel will remain strong for at least 2,000 more years.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)