Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Kvittel into (and out of) the Kotel

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A nun friend and I visited the Kotel this afternoon.
In Hebrew, Kotel refers to the Western Wall (formerly called the Wailing Wall).

Following Jewish tradition we each wrote a kvittel (the Yiddish word for a little note) to God,

folded them up, and pushed them into spaces between the ancient stones.

But I heard some strange sounds from over in the men's section.
Peeking through the divider, I saw men scooping out the thousands of prayer notes with wooden sticks, under the supervision of the Western Wall Rabbi.
Just before Passover and before Rosh Hashana, God's Kotel "mailbox" is emptied.
 The notes are buried, unread by human eyes, in the nearby ancient Mount of Olives cemetery, with much respect.
But what I did not know is that twice a year the huge stones are tested to make sure the Wall is not leaning.
Rabbi Ravinovitch today told an interviewer from Ladaat.net, “You can see the crane here now, engaged in those very tests, to make sure that no one will be endangered, Heaven forbid."
I did indeed see the crane and we were not in any danger, thank Heaven!
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(ABC Wednesday today features, as you may have guessed, the letter K.)
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23 comments:

Mara said...

I always wondered what happened to all those kvittels. Thank you

Life with Kaishon said...

On my Senior class trip in college we came to Israel! It was so amazing. I think I would have appreciated the trip more at the age of 32 than I did at 21, but never the less, it was amazing. We came to this wall. I always felt terrible because I did something terrible. When I was leaving after putting my prayer request on the wall, I found a request on the ground from someone else and I kept it.

photowannabe said...

Thank you for the fascinating information about the Kotel. I was there in 2000 and its exciting to know that my kvittel is buried in the Mt. of Olives.

Babooshka said...

I had no idea that Kotel was the name for what I have always known as the Wailing Wall. I like the little note idea. Your world is so spiritual.

Tumblewords: said...

Very interesting! Thank you!

Cloudia said...

Who knew about the removal/burial of the notes or the wall safetytesting?! Very cool, Dina.
Aloha-

Pietro said...

Really interesting this post about the Kotel. I find a sublime and uplifting the idea to write a kvittel to God.

Carolina said...

A great choice for K.

mrsnesbitt said...

Astounding!
Thanks for participating! I do not always have the time to visit everybody but I do appreciate your time and effort.

Denise

spacedlaw said...

I had actually wondered about what became of those million notes...

Kay said...

This is so interesting, Dina. How wonderful of you to both go together to this historic site. I'm glad the wall is safe.

J said...

Fascinating. I had sometimes idly wondered what happened to notes when the wall was 'full' but had never followed it up. Now I know!

pictureeachday said...

What a beautiful tradition. It's so fascinating to know where the notes go! I love your first photo as you approach the wall.. you can feel how meaningful it is.

Cindy said...

I've always been intrigued by the Kotel, having never been to see it myself. Your pictures have given me that opportunity. Thank you.

Dick said...

I have heard of the Wailing Wall it's fascinating.
Thanks for showing us.

Bestemor Aud said...

This was new for me too, that the kvittels were picked out and burried on the graveyard on the Mount of Olives.
However it is a very special experience to pray by the Western Wall. I have felt God's presence very strong just there - I was really blessed!

Jeannette St.G. said...

The Wailing Wall is one of the places I still want to visit, because I have seen so many pics about it. I think that it's the right thing to do for the kvittels to be buried.

susieofarabia said...

That is really interesting, Dina! I never knew. Thanks - it's a nice tradition.

Petrea said...

Very interesting. Something you don't see every day. Thank you, Dina! You always enlighten us.

jay said...

I had head about the prayer notes before but didn't know what happened to them - thanks for the explanation!

Interesting post. Also nice to know that the wall is tested for safety.

Catherine said...

I would like to get this wall close to my home; Certainly a peaceful place where one can feel a common spirit turned towards God with fervour.

Kendris said...

A fascinating tradition, and even more so for the respect that the kvittels are accorded. Thank you for sharing this with us!

Jew Wishes said...

The photos are a fantastic look at your trip to the Kotel.

I had no idea about the notes, though. That's very interesting.