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You know you wonder sometimes

by michael September 06 2007
Municipal newsCity planning

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One of the most distinctive features of the Western Wall, apart from the sea of black hats perennially bobbing before it and the golden dome looming above it, is the abundance of paper notes to God crammed into every crack and cranny in the Wall's ancient surface. They are the Wall's spiritual mortar, the physical manifestation of thousands of prayers sent heavenward by visitors of all faiths. But the Wall can only hold a finite number of prayers. So what happens to your letter to God after you leave? Reuters reports:

People from around the world place their prayers in Jerusalem's Western Wall or mail them to "God, Jerusalem". It's Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz who clears them up.

As Rabbi of the Western Wall, it is up to Rabinowitz to make sure there's room for future paper wishes. Twice a year his team collects hundreds of thousands of notes and buries them on Jerusalem's Mount of Olives.

Rabinowitz and a dozen workers sweep the wall with wooden sticks in order to reach up high to snare the notes closest to the heavens.

They never read them and have never counted the number of scripted prayers, but in each collection there are enough to fill about 100 shopping bags, each with thousands of notes, Rabinowitz said.

The rabbi's office, which manages the site, estimates that more than 5 million people visited the Western Wall in 2006. Israel's Tourism Ministry said that about 1.5 million of them were foreign tourists.

While certainly admirable, this raises another question. Real estate on the Mount of Olives, which has been the world's most prestigious Jewish cemetary for 3000 years, is remarkably scarce. Burial on the Mount today is reserved for the wealthy, the prominent, the famously pious and the fallen in battle. So if Moshe Q. Jew can't get a spot on the Mount postmortem, where do they find space for 100 shopping bags full of notes every six months? And where will they bury the notes when the Mount of Olives runs out of room?

Why don't you report on THAT, Reuters?
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