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Rabbi condemns release of purported Obama prayer note

  • Story Highlights
  • Prayer note purportedly written by Barack Obama removed from prayer wall
  • Rabbi who supervises wall condemns its removal
  • Israeli newspaper prints what it says are the contents of the prayer
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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- The rabbi who supervises Jerusalem's Western Wall condemned the removal of a prayer note purportedly written by Sen. Barack Obama, saying the action was "sacrilegious."

The U.S. presidential candidate visited the holy site early Thursday and placed a note in the cracks of the wall -- a custom of visitors.

The note was subsequently removed from the wall, according to the Israeli newspaper, Ma'ariv, which printed what it said were the contents of the prayer.

Ma'ariv said a seminary student gave the note to the newspaper.

Obama's senior strategist Robert Gibbs told CNN, "We haven't confirmed nor denied" that the note is from the Illinois senator.

"This sacrilegious action deserves sharp condemnation and represents a desecration of the holy site," said Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, who supervises the Western Wall, in a statement.

He said notes are supposed to be removed twice a year, on the eve of Jewish New Year and Passover, and placed in a repository under supervision "to keep them hidden from human eyes."

"Notes which are placed in the Western Wall are between the person and his Maker; Heaven forbid that one should read them or use them in any way," Rabinowitz said.

CNN's Sasha Johnson, who was a part of a pool of journalists who accompanied Obama to the wall, said when reporters asked Obama what he wrote, he declined to share the contents of his prayer.

Obama told the reporters it was a private conversation between him and God, Johnson said.

"Anybody who goes to the Western Wall and places a note there does so under the assumption that it's a private communication between him and God, and therefore once he has that presumption of confidentiality, there are rabbinic decrees against reading anybody else's private communications," said Jonathan Rosenblum, director of the Orthodox Am Ehad think tank.

Obama returned to the United States Saturday night, bringing to an end his eight-day trip to the Middle East and Europe.

CNN's Paula Hancocks contributed to this report.

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