More than 25,000 prayers are being carried to the Western Wall in Israel by Xavier exhibit founders

The prayers are from the | July 7, 2009

Xavier University Rabbi Abie Ingber, Brueggeman Center Director James Buchanan and Bill Madges, former chair of the Department of Theology who is now a dean at St. Joseph’s University, are traveling again to Israel in mid-July to deliver more than 25,000 prayers to the Western Wall.

The prayers are from A Blessing to One Another: Pope John II and the Jewish People, a first-of-its-kind exhibit which premiered at Xavier in May 2005. Since that time the Blessing has touched the lives of thousands as the exhibit tours the country at museums and universities.

Part of the 2,200-square-foot exhibit, which chronicles the late pontiff’s lifelong relationship with the Jewish people, includes a replica of the Western Wall. Visitors are encouraged to place their prayers in the wall. Nearly 4,000 prayers were placed in the wall after A Blessing to One Another premiered at Xavier, drawing more than 7,300 visitors. Nationally more than 100,000 people have visited the exhibition.

In February 2006, Blessing co-directors Ingber, Buchanan and Madges, and Yaffa Eliach, professor of Judaic studies and founder of the Shtetl Foundation, took the first batch of more than 8,600 prayers from the exhibit to the actual Western Wall. The prayers weighed more than 31 pounds.

The second batch being delivered this month contains more than 25,000 prayers collected from visitors who saw the exhibit in Pittsburgh, Chicago, New York, Rapid City, S.D., Kansas City, Mo., Philadelphia, St. Petersburg, Fla., and Los Angeles.

The Blessing exhibit is on display at Alvernia University in Reading, Pa., until the end of July. The exhibit then travels to the Holocaust Museum of Houston, Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., and the Maltz Museum in Beechwood, Ohio. It has already been on display at several venues including the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C., Loyola University in Chicago, the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City, the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles and St. Joseph’s University.

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