Discussion Guide - Holiness and the Kotel

October 1, 2013
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  1. What endows a site, whether a wall or a ruin, with holiness? And when does it become dangerous to endow a physical space, perhaps especially a contested one, with spiritual qualities? Is the Wall the closest Jews have to, say, the Vatican, or the Mormon Temple?  Are such comparisons uncomfortable, relevant, or beside the point?
  2. What does holiness mean for you? Do places inspire such feelings? Have you experienced the Wall as a place of holiness and, if so, why?
  3. How does using the Kotel for rituals such as “military swearing-in ceremonies” complicate the fragile relationship between the sacred and the profane? Does it endow military activities with the aura of “holy war”?
  4. Can you envision Jerusalem as the shared capital of two states — Israel and Palestine?
  5. Should women be permitted to pray at the Kotel with tallitot and a Torah? What complicates this discussion?


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