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In pre-dawn Jerusalem, Obama prays at Western Wall

Pool Report No. 1

July 24, 2008

Jerusalem

Senator Barack Obama left the King David Hotel at 5 a.m. and made the short drive in his motorcade to the Western Wall. The visit was unnanounced by the campaign, but dozens of people clearly were anticipating his arrival in the Old City.

It was a brief visit to one of the most sacred spots in Jerusalem, the section of the western supporting wall of the Temple Mount.

Mr. Obama, wearing a white skull cap, made his way down a walkway toward the Wall. He was escorted by the Rabbi of the Wall, Shmuel Rabinovich, and surrounded by many others when he reached the wall.

As the Rabbi quietly read Psalm 122, both he and Mr. Obama flipped through a Holy book on a wooden stand. A clear moon helped illuminate a still-dark sky. The moment unfolded as a lone man standing about 10 yards away yelled over and over, “Obama, Jerusalem is not for sale! Obama, Jerusalem is not for sale!”

After the prayer, Mr. Obama walked a final few paces to the Wall and followed the custom of placing a personal note between the stone cracks, with his prayers or wishes left alongside hundreds of others. Then, he placed his hand on the Wall, bowed his head and stood in quiet contemplation for a few moments.

The heckler continued his chant as Mr. Obama walked away from the Wall. Several other men tried to drown out his voice with chants of, “Obama, Obama, Obama.”

Dozens of people cheered and reached out to grab the senator’s hand. About 10 minutes after he arrived, his motorcade left the Old City and drove to the Tel Aviv airport.

Jeff Zeleny

New York Times