letters to God sent to Jerusalem
- The following article, attributed to Jason Keyser of the Associated Press,
appeared on page A18 of the Thursday, October 2, 2003 edition of the Arizona
Republic. One wonders how this strange international postal convention got
started and why some letters don't wind up in Mecca, Rome, or even Salt
Lake City. I once had a Jewish co-worker who offered to post any prayers
I might have in the Wailing Wall when she went there. She didn't particularly
like my prayers, but to her credit she was one of the few co-workers who
didn't testify against me at the hearing to declare me psychologically
unfit for duty :-)
LETTERS TO GOD END UP AT HOLY WESTERN WALL
Jerusalem--Ever felt your prayers went unanswered? Try sending a letter to
God and chances are it will end up, as many do each year, at an Israeli post
office in Jerusalem, where they are read and sent on to the holy Western
The letters come from all over the world in a host of languages. The elderly
ask for good health. Others seek heavenly remedies for debts, relationship
assistance or help finding jobs. Children mainly ask God to spring them
from homework assignments. The trickle of requests turns into a flood
around Christmas and the Jewish holidays.
"We have hundreds and thousands of letters sent to either God or Jesus Christ
and for some unknown reason they all come to Jerusalem," said Yitzak
Rabihiya, a postal spokesman.
"Dear Sir," begins one letter whose address reads "God of Israel" and whose
request is for assistance landing a job as a bulldozer driver.
One Israeli man used to write twice a year in the same distinctive
handwriting, addressing the envelopes to "Angels above in Seventh Heaven."
As long as anyone at the post office can remember, the letters to God have
turned up at the Postal Authority's center for undeliverable mail in an
industrial zone in Jerusalem.
In the tiny warehouse, eight workers sort envelopes into pigeon holes
labeled for junk mail, government bureaus, social security and health
insurance offices and "Letters to God."
Ten such pleas for divine intervention have arrived in the last couple of
days, some from the United States, France, Nigeria, Australia and Ecuador.
One worker started taking the letters to the Western Wall, a remnant of the
ancient Second Temple compound and Judaism's holiest site, where Jews
traditionally stuff tiny notes of prayer in the cracks between its hulking
"From there, it's not in our hands," Rabihiya said.
Eventually, the notes and letters left at the Wall are buried on Jerusalem's
outskirts along with damaged religious texts and other materials considered
too holy for the garbage dump.
The notes offer a sometimes charming glimpse into people's private wishes.
One man asks for forgiveness for stealing money from a grocery store as a
A man from Saulsbury, Tennissee, wrote a tiny message and asked the postmaster
to deliver it to the Western Wall, because he heard a rumor that would work.
It reads: "Please help me to be happy. Please help me find a nice job in
Tallahassee or Monre or some nice place and find a good wife--soon. Amen,
One writer asked God to answer a friend's prayers, and in a postscript gives
the friend's address, adding, "But you knew that."