‘Do not kiss the Western Wall’, worshippers told

The Western Wall’s rabbi asked worshippers to respect the Health Ministry guidelines   



Worshippers have been asked not to kiss the stones of the Western Wall in Jerusalem so as to limit the risk of spreading coronavirus.  

The Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which manages the holy site, said the request followed consultations between Shmuel Rabinowitz, the wall’s rabbi, and the Israeli Health Ministry.   

“Do not kiss the Western Wall stones,” Rabbi Rabinowitz said on Monday.  

The foundation added in a statement: “Ongoing activities are continuing in the Western Wall Plaza while carefully keeping to the regulations determined by the Health Ministry.”  

Health Ministry guidelines announced on Saturday asked worshippers to stand apart during prayer at the wall.  

Last week, the Israeli Rabbinate asked Jews to avoid mass prayer at the Western Wall and to withhold from visiting the elderly and infirm.    

While kissing the wall is not a religious requirement in Judaism, it is a common practice and religious Jews believe that it shows devotion to God to do so.   

The Waqf, the Islamic charitable organisation that oversees the Temple Mount, ordered the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock shut until further notice on Sunday.  

Israel has introduced among the strictest measures to slow the spread of the virus globally, including ordering mandatory 14 day quarantines for all Israeli arrivals and barring entry to non-Israeli arrivals unless they can guarantee an ability to self-quarantine for the required time. 

As of Monday, there were 255 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Israel and one death.  

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