When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Enjoy unlimited access to quality journalism.

Limited time offer

Get your 30-day free trial!
Israel

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.

Going…going…gone

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

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Green

As Air Quality Worsens, Kampala Citizens Find It Difficult to Breathe

Kampala’s air quality is much worse than globally accepted standards, but several interventions are being instituted to avert its effects.

As Air Quality Worsens, Kampala Citizens Find It Difficult to Breathe

Rush hour traffic in Kampala, Uganda on Sept. 9, 2022. Kampala’s air is nine times more polluted than the World Health Organization’s recommended limit.

Apophia Agiresaasi

KAMPALA, UGANDA — There’s something in Kampala’s air. Philomena Nabweru Rwabukuku’s body could tell even before she went to see a doctor. The retired teacher and her children used to get frequent asthma attacks, especially after they had been up and about in the city where there were many vehicles. It was worse when they lived in Naluvule, a densely populated Kampala suburb where traffic is dense.

“We were in and out of hospital most of the time. [The] attacks would occur like twice a week,” Nabweru says.

Her doctors blamed the air in Kampala, which is nine times more polluted than the World Health Organization’s recommended limit, according to a 2022 WHO report. By comparison, Bangladesh, the country with the world’s worst air pollution, is 13 times the recommended limit.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest