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Michele Chabin
Religion News Service

Jerusalem – An Israeli yeshiva student has apologized for removing a personal prayer that Sen. Barack Obama inserted into the Western Wall during a visit to Israel last week.
“I’m sorry. It was a kind of prank,” the student, identified only by the Hebrew initial “Aleph,” told reporters Sunday (July 27). “I hope (Obama) wasn’t hurt. We all believe he will take the presidency.”
The daily newspaper Ma’ariv faces legal sanctions after it published the contents of the note, written on King David Hotel stationery.
Obama reportedly wrote, “Lord — protect my family and me. Forgive me my sins and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will.”
The note has since been handed over to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation that manages the holy site, which reinserted it into one of the wall’s crevices.
The removal of the note, known as a “kvitel,” deeply upset religious Jews around the world, who consider the Western Wall, and the prayers placed between its ancient stones, sacrosanct.
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the religious leader in charge of the Western Wall complex, said the removal of Obama’s prayer was a “sacrilegious action” that “deserves sharp condemnation and represents a desecration of the holy site.”
The rabbi said that notes placed in the wall are removed twice a year, on the eve of the Rosh Hashana and Passover holidays, and placed “in a special repository for religious items, under supervision to keep them hidden from human eyes.”
Prayers placed in the Western Wall “are between the person and his Maker. Heaven forbid that one should read them or use them in any way,” Rabinowitz said.
The custom of placing notes between the stones of the Western Wall is ancient and is used as a means of expression by a person praying to his creator, Rabinowitz said.
Copyright 2008 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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