For many folks, visiting the Kotel is emotional, meaningful and – more than anything – private. In fact, the single most common experience people have at the Western Wall is inherently personal – putting a kvittel, or note in between its ancient ashlar stones. Whether you’re a believer or not, the simple act of writing a small note, folding it up, and shoving it deep into the cracks is the closest we get to talking to God. But what happens to all those requests, prayers and hopes? Where do they go? Is the Kotel just an ever-expanding archive of notes? And, if so, how doesn’t it run out of space?
The short answer is the Rosh HaShanah cleanup. But while reporting on this peculiar semi-annual ritual, producer Yoshi Fields discovered that a cleanup can be much more than just a cleanup. It offered him an opportunity to rethink the story he was told about Israel, and evaluate how reality measured up to myth.
This ”short” is also our first listener drive of the season. If you feel that the show adds something to your life, if you feel that it captures unique aspects of the crazy human tapestry called ‘Israel,’ please consider opening your hearts and making a donation today.
Music by Blue Dot Sessions, arranged by Joel Shupack with help from Yochai Maital. The end song is Shlomi Shaban’s Hebrew cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah“. The original lyrics were translated by Kobi Meidan.
This special was produced by Zev Levi and James Feder, and mixed by Sela Waisblum.
Thanks to Judah Kauffman, who first had the idea for the story, and to Chaim Waxman, Shlomo Ben-Chaim and Lee Eshel Rubinstein.