Sunday, August 22, 2010

Wheelchair access designed for historic Kotel tunnels in Jerusalem

From Israel National News:

For decades, archaeologists have been unearthing historic finds hundreds and thousands of years old in the Kotel (Western Wall) tunnels (pictured) in Jerusalem. Hundreds of thousands of visitors from Israel and abroad have come to see the site, but wheelchair-bound visitors were unable to access much of it - until Sunday.

Realizing the importance that the Kotel tunnels have for Jews in Israel and worldwide, the Yad Sarah organization, which lends out medical equipment, determined to find a way to allow Jews in wheelchairs to view the tunnels and the history they contain.

Handicapped access at the site was restricted due to the fact that in some parts the tunnels are narrower than the width of a standard wheelchair. Yad Sarah's challenge was to find a wheelchair narrow enough to enter the narrow parts of the tunnel, while still wide enough to comfortably seat an adult.

At the request of Yad Sarah founder and former Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, the group's volunteers searched and managed to find an appropriate chair. They then added some safety features before turning the chairs over to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which will loan them out as needed.

The Kotel Tunnels allow visitors to see structures that are nearly 2,000 years old, and were built in Herodian times, as well as more recent construction from various time periods.