Workers wearing protective suits spray disinfectant at the Western   Wall plaza in the Old City of Jerusalem, March 31, 2020
Workers wearing protective suits spray disinfectant at the Western Wall plaza in the Old City of Jerusalem, March 31, 2020
Photo: EPA
Workers wearing protective suits spray disinfectant at the Western   Wall plaza in the Old City of Jerusalem, March 31, 2020

In hazmat suits, workers collect messages from Western Wall

Clad in protective garb and gas masks against coronavirus, some sprayed sanitizer on the wall's ancient stones while others held onto their sticks with gloves as they extracted the paper notes left in 'God's mailbox'

Reuters |
Published: 03.31.20 , 17:40
Twice a year, cleaning teams using long sticks gouge out tens of thousands of written prayers that visitors traditionally cram into the crevices of Judaism's Western Wall in Jerusalem.
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  • It was spring cleaning again at the wall on Tuesday.
    Workers wearing protective suits spray disinfectant at the Western   Wall plaza in the Old City of Jerusalem, March 31, 2020 Workers wearing protective suits spray disinfectant at the Western   Wall plaza in the Old City of Jerusalem, March 31, 2020
    Workers wearing protective suits spray disinfectant at the Western Wall plaza in the Old City of Jerusalem, March 31, 2020
    (Photo: EPA)
    But this time, the rite was held with precautions against coronavirus infection in place.
    Workers in hazmat suits and gas masks sprayed sanitizer on the wall's ancient stones while others held onto their sticks with gloves as they extracted the paper notes left in "God's mailbox."
    A policeman wearing a mask prays besides the Western Wall in Jerusalem, March 31, 2020 A policeman wearing a mask prays besides the Western Wall in Jerusalem, March 31, 2020
    A policeman wearing a mask prays besides the Western Wall in Jerusalem, March 31, 2020
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Religious authorities also operate a service in which people can email their prayers for placement between the stones.
    A man clears notes placed in the cracks of the Western Wall to   create space for new notes ahead of Passover, March 31, 2020 A man clears notes placed in the cracks of the Western Wall to   create space for new notes ahead of Passover, March 31, 2020
    A man clears notes placed in the cracks of the Western Wall to create space for new notes ahead of Passover, March 31, 2020
    (Photo: Reuters)
    One would-be worshipper, who stepped up to the wall and kissed it, was removed by police, a day after Israel tightened public prayer restrictions.
    Jewish worshippers practice social distancing at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, March 31, 2020 Jewish worshippers practice social distancing at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, March 31, 2020
    Jewish worshippers practice social distancing at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, March 31, 2020
    (Photo: Reuters)
    The Rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinowitz, who oversees the collection of the notes to ensure there's always room for more, offered a prayer for salvation "from this difficult virus that has attacked the world."
    The papers were placed into bags for ritual burial on Jerusalem's Mount of Olives.
    A labourer sanitizes the stones of the Western Wall as part of   measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, March 31,   2020 A labourer sanitizes the stones of the Western Wall as part of   measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, March 31,   2020
    A labourer sanitizes the stones of the Western Wall as part of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, March 31, 2020
    (Photo: Reuters)
    A short distance away on the Temple Mount, the al-Aqsa Mosque was also being sanitized.
    The Western Wall is a remnant of the compound of the Second Jewish Temple that was destroyed in 70 CE.

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