The Western Wall Heritage Foundation announced on Monday that work to secure stones in the Western Wall at the Robinson’s Arch area where the egalitarian prayer section is located has finished.
In July 2018, a large stone fell out of the wall above a prayer platform that is part of the egalitarian prayer section of the Western Wall, causing significant damage to the site.
The platform, the only area with direct access to the stones of the Western Wall in the egalitarian section, has been closed ever since due to safety concerns and the ongoing work to survey the site to determine if other stones were loose and the execution of the requisite work to secure any such stones.
The main part of the egalitarian section at the Robinson’s Arch area at the southern end of the Western Wall is set several meters away from the stones of the wall itself. This area was not closed and has continued to function during the repair work.
The lengthy delay in completing the surveys and repairs to the smaller platform abutting the wall itself has caused consternation amongst the Masorti (Conservative) and Reform movements in Israel, as well as the progressive Jewish movements in North America, who use the egalitarian prayer section for prayer services, as well as frequent bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies.
Although the repair work has now been completed, it is unclear exactly when this platform will be reopened.
According to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, engineers from the Antiquities Authority conducted a thorough survey of the site and found many loose stones that were liable to fall and needed securing.
The loose stones were secured with metal pins requiring drilling work into the stones, something that needed specific dispensation from leading rabbis due to the sensitivity of such work under Jewish law.