First sitting American president to visit Judaism’s holiest site
In a bold, politically-incorrect move, Donald Trump defied the U.S. government’s 50-year-old custom of not recognizing East Jerusalem as part of Israel and became the first American president to visit the Western Wall.
Wearing a navy suit, red striped tie and black kippah, Trump strode into the Western Wall Prayer Plaza in Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday, placed his hand on the stone wall and prayed for 30 seconds.
Following Jewish custom, he slipped a prayer note inside a crack between the stones.
Barack Obama visited the Western Wall as a presidential candidate in 2008. The note he left behind was stolen and later published. ‘Lord,’ it read, ‘protect my family and me. Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will.’
The White House has not said what Trump wrote on his own prayer note.
The Western Wall, in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, is one of four original retaining walls King Herod built in the first century B.C. to support the Temple Mount. It is the only remaining portion of the Second Jewish Temple, which stood in Jerusalem until the Romans destroyed it in 70 A.D. as they quelled a Jewish revolt.
Ivanka Trump, who converted to Orthodox Judaism before marrying Jared Kushner, stood at the wall in silent prayer. Melania Trump took her turn at the wall.
Jewish Israelis see all of Jerusalem as their 3,000-year-old capital. Old Testament scripture teaches that King David made Jerusalem the capital of a unified kingdom of Israel about 1,000 years before the birth of Christ. But Palestinians, who comprise a third of modern Jerusalem’s residents, claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a yet-to-be-recognized Palestinian nation.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Jared Kushner prayed at the wall.
The President and First Lady arriving at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv to begin their historic visit.