Photo of the Week – Western Wall clear up

It’s not just Israeli homes that get hit by a pre-Passover clean up – so do the ancient stones of the Wailing Wall.

Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Twice a year, before the Passover festival and the Jewish New Year in the fall, employees at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem get out their dustpans, brushes and brooms for a truly unique kind of clean up.

The employees carefully remove hundreds of thousands of handwritten notes placed between the ancient stones by worshippers all over the world.

Millions of people visit the Western Wall – one of Judaism’s holiest sites – every year and many leave a written prayer or request on pieces of paper wedged into the cracks of the stones.

The tradition of leaving notes is thought to have begun nearly 300 years ago, when a rabbi sent his students with a prayer in writing because he was unable to make the journey alone.

At every clear out there are enough notes to fill about 100 shopping bags. The notes are then taken and buried on the Mount of Olives.

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