Zehava Fox was born in Jerusalem in 1935 and remembers the Western Wall as it was before the War of Independence – a narrow alley near the wall. Her father, a “Haganah” fighter, would take the whole family on a walk to the Old City on Saturdays.
In 1967 she was 32 years old, a mother of three children – the oldest was five years old and the youngest was a baby of five weeks. Fox’s husband was drafted to the army and when battle broke out in Jerusalem she and her children joined their neighbors in the bomb shelter near her house on Tschernichowsky Street. To occupy the children and cheer them up, Fox brought a big box of colors and encouraged the kids to paint the shelter’s walls. Occasionally she would go up to the apartment to do laundry for the baby, in spite of her neighbors’ protests. Regardless of everything – life must go on.
Fox’s father, who was a contractor and too old to be drafted, would come a few times a day from his apartment on Ramban Street, bringing sweets and groceries and helping out as much as possible. On Saturday, June 10th, the radio announced that the war was over but people were instructed to stay in their shelters. Fox’s father came that evening and left with tears in his eyes, and she didn’t understand why. Later she found out why. As soon as Shabbat was over, the Jewish contractors were called to begin the long process of clearing and restoring the Western Wall, destroying the Mugrabi neighborhood and clearing a courtyard near the Wall, to make a plaza that would be able to hold the many people who would want to come there on the coming Shavu’ot holiday.