The Holy Ark is, according to Judaism, the holiest religious object. It rested in a special room in the Temple called “The Holy of Holies” and only one person, the High Priest, saw it once each year on the most sacred Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
When the Babylonians destroyed the first Temple they took many of the vessels with them to Babylonia. Yet the whereabouts of the Ark of the Covenant remained unknown. Jewish sources discuss a hiding spot where king Yoshiyahu (631-609 BCE) put the Ark in order to safeguard it from the Babylonian invasion. From that point there has been no evidence of its location and there have been many hypotheses about what befell it. There was no Ark in the second temple as it could not be found.
With the return of the Jewish People to their homeland, there has been a renewed interest in the Holy Temple, its vessels and purpose in today’s world. An institute has been established to recreate vessels and garments from the Temple. Yet the Holy Ark lays hidden, piqueing Jewish and non-Jewish interest alike. The midrash, an ancient Jewish source promises the Jewish People: “When the Jewish people are gathered in from the exiles from the four corners of the world, they will suddenly find the holy vessels of the Temple.”