Thousands of notes were removed from the stones of the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Tuesday, ahead of the upcoming Rosh Hashannah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot holidays.
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, who has served as Rabbi of the Western Wall and the Holy Sites of Israel since 1995, supervised the removal of prayer notes from the holy site by employees of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation.
Every year millions of notes are placed in the Western Wall by Jewish and non-Jewish worshipers from Israel and the world. The notes are placed in person, sent through the website of the Western Wall, and through fax and mail.
Twice a year, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation removes the prayer notes to free up space for new notes by the millions of visitors who prayer at the Western Wall every year.
In keeping with a rabbinic ruling by Rabbi Rabinovitch, the prayer notes removed from the Western Wall are buried in a genizah, or religious repository, alongside religious texts that have been damaged or worn out with age. The genizah used for the notes is located on the Mount of Olives.
Workers from the Western Wall Heritage Foundation also checked the stones of the Wall in conjunction with representatives of the Israel Antiquities Authority to ensure that the Western Wall Plaza area is secure.
Concerns were raised recently, after a large stone fell from the Western Wall onto the egalitarian section last month. Miraculously, no one was injured.