Paper publishes Obama Western Wall prayer

July 26, 2008 5:31:01 PM PDT
A written prayer that Barack Obama left this week in the cracks of the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site, asks God to guide him and guard his family, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday. "Lord - Protect my family and me," reads the note published in the Maariv daily. "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 paper's decision to make the note public drew fire. The rabbi in charge of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinovitz, said publishing the note intruded in Obama's relationship with God.

"The notes placed between the stones of the Western Wall are between a person and his maker. It is forbidden to read them or make any use of them," he told Army Radio. The publication "damages the Western Wall and damages the personal, deep part of every one of us that we keep to ourselves," he said.

Another Israeli paper, Yediot Ahronot, published an article Friday saying it had also obtained the note but decided not to publish it to respect Obama's privacy.

Many visitors to the 2,000-year-old Western Wall leave notes bearing requests and prayers. Obama did so during a pre-dawn visit there Thursday, following a day spent meeting Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Maariv published a photograph of the note, which it said had been removed from the wall by a student at a Jewish seminary immediately after Obama left.

Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs would neither confirm nor deny the note was Obama's.

The handwriting appeared to match a message Obama inscribed Wednesday in the guest book at Yad Vashem, Israel's official Holocaust memorial, and was written on stationery from the King David Hotel, where Obama stayed while in Israel.

The visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories was part of an international tour meant to shore up Obama' s foreign affairs credentials.

At the Western Wall, Obama was greeted by a crowd of curious onlookers and photographers. He donned a white skullcap, listened to a rabbi read a prayer, and inserted a folded white piece of paper between the stones. One hardline Israeli protester shouted, "Obama, Jerusalem is not for sale."


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