Photo Essay

The faces of the wall

Looking away

They come from all over, they look very different from each other. Men with long beards completely dressed in black, modern women with silicone breasts, complete families from granny to toddler, random dudes with dreadlocks, they all come to 'the wall'.

The Western Wall - or Wailing Wall - is a small section of the wall surrounding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and the most important place of pilgrimage for the jewish religion. Along the years, the wall has become a symbol of faith and, unfortunately, of the regional divide and dispute over the overlapping holy sites for the three monotheistic religions of the western world.

Not being religious myself, it just strikes me. It may seem odd, but it does strike me. Not the rituals, the separation, or the cheer rawness of the wall, but the people. The people really strike me.

Faces of pure joy sighting the holiest wall for the first time, people carrying the suffering of the whole world whilst mourning at the wall, celebrations ending the Sabbath, police ad security people looking suspiciously at everyone, kids happy with the tons of candy in the morning, faces of hope for the best when they tuck in their praying notes in the wall cracks.

Early morning to late evening these hordes of very different people, with different motivations, backgrounds, nationalities and cultures, roam to the wall in prayer. Somehow, faith unites them. Or at least, their own understanding of faith.

Their expressions, reactions and emotions, release some form of captivating energy. I wonder if the world would be a better place if more people would pray or, the other way around.

These photos were taken in the wall plaza - a square facing the western wall that was created in 1968 by the bulldozing of the Moroccan quarter of the city, shortly after the Israel forces gained control of Jerusalem during the 6 day war with Jordan - when I visited Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories.

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