The yeshiva student who pried Barack Obama’s prayer note from the Western Wall apologized.
Identified only by the first initial of his name, Alef, and with his face obscured, the student went on Israel’s Channel 2 television Sunday to confess that he took the presidential contender’s note last week and passed it to the press.
The resulting coverage of Obama’s private, handwritten musings on hope and sin added to the mystique of his campaign visit to Israel but drew international criticism, including from leading rabbis who said Jewish morality had been compromised by the publication.
Obama, the presumptive Democratic candidate to face off against Republican John McCain in the race to succeed President Bush in November, has not commented on the episode.
“I’m sorry. It was a kind of prank,” Alef said, his hands shaking as he fingered the tightly wadded-up sheet of King David Hotel letterhead. “I hope he wasn’t hurt. We all believe he will take the presidency.”
Channel 2’s religious affairs correspondent said she had passed the note from the yeshiva student to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which reinserted it – deeply – between the ancient slabs of stone.