JERUSALEM (JTA) – A large stone dislodged from egalitarian section of the Western Wall and crashed down on one of the platforms designated for mixed prayer.
The incident on Monday morning came less than a day after the prayer platform known as the Ezrat Yisrael near Robinson’s Arch at the southern end of the wall was filled with worshippers for the Fast of Tisha B’Av. One woman is seen praying at the wall several feet from where the stone fell in video footage of the area. She does not appear to have been hit.
The smaller of the section’s platforms, on which the stone fell, was closed until further notice. Experts from the Israel Antiquities Authority were called to the scene to examine the area.
“This is a wake-up call – we must check the entire Western Wall, both parts, so that heaven forbid there is no disaster in the future,” Yitzhar Hess, the head of the Masorti movement, tweeted, along with footage of the stone falling.
“This is an unusual and most rare incident that has not occurred for decades,” said Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, the rabbi of the Western Wall. “The fact that this powerful incident happened a day after the 9th of Av fast, in which we mourned the destruction of our temples, raises questions which the human soul is too small to contain, and requires soul-searching.”
“I thank the creator for preventing a major disaster,” he also said. “The professional authorities will investigate the incident.”