A satirical Facebook group posting fake notes supposedly retrieved from the Western Wall has managed to fool the holy site's rabbi and certain media outlets in Israel.
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Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi of the Western Wall, filed a complaint with police against the Facebook page, known in Hebrew as "Notes I took from the Kotel," on Monday, Israeli media outlets reported. Israel Hayom reported about the page on Monday, referring to it as a "Facebook group that has violated the convention that notes placed between the stones of the Western Wall are not removed."
The problem is neither the news sites nor the rabbi received the memo that the page is a work of satire.
Jews have customarily placed notes in the Western Wall, also known as the Kotel, for hundreds of years. While many believe the notes are never removed, municipal workers occasionally clear out notes to make way for new ones, putting them away in storage.
Israel Hayom referred to the founder of the controversial Facebook page as "a 41-year-old Holon resident named Amos, who claims that he publishes the notes because 'the public has a right to know.'
According to the Post, "Rabinowitz described the publication of the prayer notes as 'the desecration of a holy place,' and 'injurious to the feelings of those placing them there.'"
"Amos" responded to the Israel Hayom report almost immediately.
"Well, let's begin with this that I am not Amos and I am not from Holon," the page's administrator posted Monday. "We opened this page a year ago as a satirical page in every respect, with all the contents – the notes, fabricated and written by us. The page gained 'Likes' at the beginning but has recently become viral."
That viral expansion but not the intended humor seems to have caught Rabinowitz's eye. The recent attention certainly has not hurt – while it had amassed some 7,000 'Likes' as of Monday's Israel Hayom report, it was up to over 9,800 'Likes' by Tuesday.
Israel's Maariv newspaper was taken to task for publishing the contents of Barack Obama's Western Wall note when he was still senator in 2008. Rabbi Rabinowitz said removal of Obama's puported note was "sacrilegious." This year, the Western wall Heritage Foundation released a photo of the note Pope Francis placed in the Kotel.