(photo credit: Courtesy)
Twenty-five thousand prayers from US Christians make their way to to be placed in the Western Wall on Thursday.
The prayers were brought by Rabbi Abie Ingber of Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio; James Buchanan, director of the university's Brueggeman Center for Dialogue; and Bill Madges, dean of the College of Arts at St. Joseph's University in Pennsylvania, the directors of an exhibit that first opened at Xavier University, a Jesuit institution in Cincinnati.
The exhibit, titled "A Blessing to One Another: Pope John II and the Jewish People," follows the life of the late Pope John II through four distinct stages and shows the pontiff's contribution to relations between Catholics and Jews. The exhibit includes a replica of the Western Wall.
During the 2005 premiere at Xavier, 4,000 prayers were placed in the Wall. More than 7,300 people visited the exhibit.
The following year, Ingber, Buchanan, and Madges, along with Dr. Yaffa Eliach, professor of Judaic Studies, founder of the Shtetl Foundation and another co-director, took more than 8,600 prayers from the exhibit's Wall to its life-sized counterpart. The prayers weighed more than 14 kilograms.
"I felt it would be wonderful... because I believe so much in togetherness," Eliach said about the 2005 premiere.
"We hand-carried 8,650 prayers that attendees had placed in our 25-foot replica of the Kotel, and brought them to the Wall in Jerusalem. That was the most emotional part of our trip," Ingber said in a 2006 letter to the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, which helped him prepare for his trip to Israel and was a leading financial sponsor of the exhibit.
Now, they are in Israel again. This time they have more than 25,000 prayers from cities across America including Pittsburgh, Chicago, New York, Kansas City and Los Angeles.
The exhibit is currently on display at Alvernia University in Reading, Pennsylvania, 93 km. northwest of Philadelphia.