Israel Approves Plan to Let Sponsors Beam Messages Onto Western Wall

Plan would allow companies to project image, logo or slogan of its choice on the ancient stones, but only for a fee.

Avi Nalaf, Haaretz Correspondent
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Avi Nalaf, Haaretz Correspondent

Most people go to the Western Wall to pray, but now some will also head there to pay.

The cabinet has approved a planthat would allow for sponsorship messages to be beamed onto the Western Wall, sources in the Prime Minister's Office told Haaretz Monday.

According to the plan, any company will be able to project the image, logo or slogan of its choice on the ancient stones, for a price.

The proposal, drawn up by MK Mordechai Hidud, will take advantage of technology being developed by Kfar Sava-based start-up Kotelad. The company - the brainchild of U.S.-born Joe King - has come up with an innovative laser projector capable of beaming high-quality images onto walls, domes, minarets and steeples.

"After thousands of years of just being there, the Western Wall will finally be able to fulfill its commercial potential," King said. "The religious and spiritual center of the Jewish people should reflect Jewish heritage - and thus be dedicated to bringing in a healthy profit."

Kotelad held a trial run of the system last week, beaming the Coca-Cola logo onto the Wall, much to the bemusement of worshipers gathered below. And it seems that the trial was not only a technological success, with local vendors reporting a 14 percent increase in the sale of soft drinks.

The Western Wall Heritage Center plans to open an ad sales division, and sell wall space on a per-stone basis. Prices are expected to be upward of NIS 1,000 per stone per day. When no advertising is running, the wall will have the message "What are you waiting for? The Third Temple? Advertise now!" a source in the Heritage Center said.

Some companies that have already expressed an interest in the project, including Bank Discount ("Feel like you're talking to a brick wall? Talk to us instead"), Netvision ("If God didn't get your note, why not send an e-mail?") and Ytong ("If it's not Ytong, I'm not praying"). G. Yafit is reportedly also in talks to have her likeness beamed onto the wall 24 hours a day.

According to Hidud, the money raised will be used to replace the paper skullcaps that are stolen by the thousands by visitors to Judaism's holiest site, to set up a searchable online database of the notes that people place between the stones of the Wall, and to build a 14-foot high partition between sections reserved for men and women.

Happy Purim from Haaretz

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