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Jerusalem launches free night buses to the Kotel

Large groups of Jews are expected to flock to the Old City on Tisha B'Av, which begins the evening of July 26.

Tisha B'Av at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City. Credit: Akiva Van Koningsveld.
Tisha B'Av at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City. Credit: Akiva Van Koningsveld.

Visitors to Israel’s capital will soon be able to enjoy free transportation to the Western Wall at all hours, courtesy of the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and Jewish Heritage.

“The Western Wall, the remnant of our holy Temple, is a focal point for visits during all hours of the day, and it is a merit for us to allow the public to comfortably visit the site, even at night,” Jerusalem Affairs Minister Meir Porush told Hebrew-language media this week.

The buses to Jerusalem’s Old City depart at 2 a.m., 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. from the International Convention Center. Buses will leave the Western Wall for the ICC at 1:30 a.m., 2:30 a.m. and 3:30 a.m.

The new route will operate from Saturday night until Friday, Porush stated. The initiative is still in the pilot phase, and if the demand grows, the ministry plans to add buses to the route.

Large groups of Jews are expected to flock to Jerusalem’s Old City in the coming week.

Wednesday marked the start of a period known as “the Nine Days,” during which many religious Jews observe more stringent mourning practices in remembrance of the destruction of the two Temples in Jerusalem more than 1,950 years ago. The period culminates in the fast of Tisha B’Av, the ninth of the Hebrew month of Av.

This year, Tisha B’Av begins at nightfall on Wednesday, July 26, and extends until sundown on Thursday, July 27. “Tens of thousands will sit on the ground and lament the destruction of the House of God in various prayers and traditions, as befits this unifying site,” the Western Wall Heritage Foundation announced on its website.

Moreover, during the last hours of the fast, “thousands of Jews from all backgrounds and sectors come together, shoulder to shoulder, singing emotional songs of comfort and redemption.”

First-aid responders will be stationed at the Western Wall plaza, the Western Wall Foundation said, and on Thursday, refreshments will be served to those who completed the fast.

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