Since the time of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem 2,000 years ago, the Western Wall has been a symbol and focus of yearning for generations of Jews around the world. The Western Wall's ancient stones were the objects of a nation's longing for its homeland and city, the site mourned by those exiled from it, as well as their sons, grandsons and great grandsons, generation after generation.
Even after we returned to the Western Wall and merited to cling to its stones, the Wall remains the symbol of the world's strongest substance —heritage. Personal and national memories converge in the stones of the Western Wall, stones that possess human hearts, and are the reason the Jewish nation survived its many hardships in the Diaspora.
Today, when the Western Wall Plaza is teeming with people, the heart sings, "When the Lord brought back those that returned to Zion, we were like unto them that dream". It is fitting that we recognize and pay respect to the wondrous chain of generations whose faith and resilience enabled us to return to Jerusalem, walk in the footsteps of our forefathers in their land and speak their ancient language.
The Chain of Generations Center, opened adjacent to the Western Wall Plaza in 2005, was established by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which is responsible for the Western Wall on behalf of the Prime Minister's office for the purpose of connecting its millions of visitors to the Jewish chain of generations.
Visitors to the Center enjoy a moving experience conveying the fascinating narrative of the Jewish nation throughout the generations, walking along approximately 3,500 years of history in which our nation went from exile to redemption, from destruction to construction and from despair to hope. The Center utilizes unique and magical elements including music, artistically designed glass, archeology and lighting effects. Together these create a masterpiece which inspires all our senses. Accompanied by an audio-guide, the visitor descends into the depths of the earth and into the depths of the Jewish nation's history.
The Center is built in subterranean spaces. Each space exposes the visitor to a different period along the Jewish chain of generations: The Forefathers and the Twelve Tribes, Kings and Prophets, The Holocaust, Redemption and more. Each period is expressed by a work of art integrating glass, light and sound.
Construction of the Chain of Generations Center took approximately seven years, during which time fascinating archeological discoveries from Jerusalem's ancient times were revealed. These remnants were integrated into the exhibits themselves.
In the last part of the journey, surrounded by rays of light and smoke, an innovative multimedia presentation tells the story of Rabbi Yisrael Halevi, a lover of Jerusalem. His story summarizes the central theme of the entire journey and contains the secret of the Jewish nation's existence. The visit concludes at a stunning observation point overlooking the Western Wall.
Since its establishment, over 1,200,000 have visited the Chain of Generations Center and walked away with "food for thought" and inspiration for the future. Each one of us is a link in the chain of generations, a chain anchored in the past that looks brightly into the future.
"Walk about Zion, and go round about her... that ye may tell it to the generation following." (Psalms 48, 13-14).
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz
Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites