Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Project Israel- Western Wall Prayers

One of the things I'm most excited about in the upcoming Holy Land trip is the opportunity to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem, which is the only part of the Herod's Temple still left standing.

For centuries, people have visited the Western Wall, also known as the "Wailing Wall", to have a physical point of contact with the place where the Bible says God's Spirit dwelled, and was the focal point of worship in ancient Israel for centuries. People often write prayers on pieces of paper and leave them in the cracks of the wall. 

On the first Sunday after our church building burned down, we made our own Wailing Wall out of bricks from one of the chimneys, writing prayers on paper and putting them in the cracks just like in Jerusalem.

I know that not many people get the chance to visit the Western Wall, so I want to share as much of the experience as I can. This Sunday, my congregation is going to write prayers on pieces of paper that I will then place in the Wailing Wall. I'd like to extend the same opportunity to the readers of this blog.

If you'd like me to place a prayer in the Western Wall for you, email it to me. I will immediately print it out and fold it up, doing my best not to look at any of the text so that it can be between you and God.

In the next few days I'll be sharing a few preliminary thoughts about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and possible solutions, something I'll be asking people about when I'm over there. I'd love to hear your thoughts and questions, too. Feel free to share them below!


mam said...

Hi Matt. One thing you might mention about the wall (ha kodesh) is that there are two areas: one large area for men to pray (this is what you see on tv and in photos, as you have here), and one small area for women (which is much smaller and very crowded). Women and men go through separate entrances. I know you've already seen my blog, but here's a link to a photo that shows the difference: http://jerusalem-06.blogspot.com/2006/05/western-wall.html

I like the ritual you did at your church. I thought it was cool to see that in the photo, a man and a woman are praying together at your wall. It might be interesting if you reflect on the gender separation at the wall in Jerusalem, and why men have more access to this "physical point of contact with . . . God's spirit" than women do.

Just a thought! Hope all is well with you.


Matt Kelley said...

Thanks for the comment, Maria. I hate to admit it, but I didn't know there were separate areas for men and women, although given the little I know about Middle Eastern culture, I'm not surprised. The image is the product of a very quick Google Image search, but that very fact only bolsters your critique about men being favored in such places. I'll try to incorporate such questions in conversations with locals during the trip.

mam said...

Hi Matt,
No reason you should have known about the gender division at the wall (which is ha-kotel, and NOT ha-kodesh as i wrote above - sorry). And I don't know about "middle eastern," but dividing things up between men and women is very Jewish (orthodox, mainly). i hope you'll get to visit an area called Mea Shearim - I wrote about it on my blog. along with the restrictions, be sure to notice the absence of israeli flags (which you should see tons of everywhere else). very interesting.
it's getting close - hope you'll enjoy yourself!

uriljack said...

The Western Wall (Kotel) is the holiest place on earth and currently the best place to send your prayers because the divine presence of God dwells there.
western wall

Matt Kelley said...

For those that would like prayers placed at the Western Wall but don't want to pay for it (the person who left the above comment is actually trying to make money off it!), there is a Twitter account called The Kotel (http://twitter.com/#!/TheKotel) that will do it for free. No one should have to pay to pray.