In honor of Passover, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation Sunday morning removed prayer notes that had been placed between the Western Wall stones over the past six months.
The removal is carried out in accordance with halachic guidelines, using gloves and disposable wooden utensils, with the goal of making room for new notes from tourists and visitors who are expected to arrive in Jerusalem in the coming months.
The notes were collected in sacks and will be buried together with worn holy books that are transferred to a designated genizah. The rabbi of the Western Wall and holy sites, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, personally supervised the note removal, as he does every year, and prayed for the Unity of Israel and for the tens of thousands of visitors who placed their prayers between the ancient stones.
How can I send a note to the Western Wall and when did the custom even begin?
The custom of placing notes in the Western Wall was recorded already three centuries ago by the Or HaChaim HaKadosh. The prayer notes are buried along the entire length of the Western Wall and can also be found among the courses of stones that were exposed in the Western Wall Tunnels.
An average of about 3,000 notes are sent each month through the Western Wall Heritage Foundation’s website. This is in addition to the hundreds of thousands of notes that are personally tucked between the stones by visitors.
This past year, about 100,000 notes were sent through the website alone, an increase of 30% compared to this period last year, from countries around the world, including the United States, Slovakia, Brazil, South America, Colombia, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, England, Russia, Venezuela, Ukraine, India, Mexico, Argentina, and Taiwan.
The top ten countries from which the highest number of notes were sent are the U.S., Brazil, Colombia, Russia, Canada, Slovakia, South Africa, Ukraine, and England. Notes can be sent through the official website: www.thekotel.org.
Thousands of notes are sent to the Western Wall throughout the year; each note has a story behind it. Groups and organizations from many countries send notes to the Western Wall.
Last month, notes were sent to the Western Wall by participants at a tourism conference in Madrid, Spain, as well as from Taiwan. A virtual Western Wall was shown at the conference and the participants were invited to write what was in their hearts on the notes, brought by the Tourism Ministry to the Western Wall.