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eBay Outrage: Israeli Man Auctions Off Bits Of Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall

Every year, thousands of tourists and pilgrims travel the world for a chance to stand – or kneel – in front of Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall. Now, thanks to the popular online auction site eBay, they can have the wall sent to them – or at least a piece of it.

Praying or collecting merchandise for an online auction? (Bertrand Hauger)
Praying or collecting merchandise for an online auction? (Bertrand Hauger)
Michael Borgstede

There's not much that doesn't find its way to eBay. Bidders can use the popular Internet site to buy a goat's skull, six-foot bullwhip, Barack Obama toilet paper or, for just $24.99, a piece of Jerusalem's Wailing Wall.

Much to the dismay of the Rabbi in charge of the holy site, an Israeli businessman has begun using eBay to sell laminated cards containing crumbled little bits purported to be from the Western Wall, a place of pilgrimage and prayer for Jews. The seller describes the merchandise as "Piece of Stone Soil From the Wailing Western Wall Kotel Jerusalem Jesus Israel."

The same seller is also offering stones of some two square centimeters, supposedly found on the ground in front of the Wall, for $4.99 each. Each stone is presented in an "elegant" display box.


Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi who oversees the Wall, took exception to the offer and wrote a letter to eBay asking the site to take it down. The stones, he wrote, are in no way "blessed" as the vendor claims.

"Even if they are merely stones from the area around the Wall that were taken without permission, this constitutes fraud," Rabbi Rabinowitz wrote, adding that what is implied is "that they have some kind of merit and blessing, which isn't the case!" The rabbi accused the seller of violating not only the Torah but also the Israeli Antiquities Act.

As a kind of warning to seller and potential buyers of the stones, Rabbi Rabinowitz included an anecdote about a man who placed a small stone from the Wailing Wall under the pillow of his sick wife, hoping that it would lead to her healing. Instead, the woman died.

Although widely published in the Israeli and world press, the Rabbi's letter doesn't seem to have had much effect on the businessman or sales: in a week, he sold nine.

Read the original article in German

Photo - Bertrand Hauger

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Migrant Lives

A Train Journey With Bengal Migrants Looking For A Living Far Away

Finding a seat on the Karmabhoomi Express is close to impossible. A closer look at why so many migrant workers travel on it, and out of Bengal, offers a grim picture.

image of a train

The Karmabhoomi Express runs from Kamakhya to Mumbai in a 3 day journey.

India Rail Info
Joydeep Sarkar

WEST BENGAL — Welcome aboard the 22512 Kamakhya-LTT Karmabhoomi Express — a metaphor, if any, of the acuteness of Bengal’s unemployment problem.

It is 10.28 pm at north Bengal’s Alipurduar Junction and the crowd has swollen to its peak. This is when the Karmabhoomi Express appears at the station. It is bound for Mumbai. Finding a seat on it is close to impossible. It is always chock full and there are always hundreds struggling to get a spot in the unreserved general compartment.

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