President Miguel Juan Sebastián Piñera Echenique of Chile visited the Western Wall on Tuesday with his wife and a large delegation as part of his state visit to Israel.
Piñera, who turns 70 on December 1 this year, is the 36th President of Chile, following his election in December 2017. He also served as the 34th President of Chile from 2010 to 2014.
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, who is in charge of the Western Wall and Holy Sites, recited a chapter of Psalms with the President and blessed him with King Solomon’s prayer that all his prayers will be accepted with good will.
About that – Piñera’s presidential reign is associated with bad luck. The BBC listed a series of misfortunes that took place during his presidency: the 2010 Maule earthquake followed by another quake during Piñera’s inauguration ceremony; and there were the mining accident of 2010, the 2010 Santiago prison fire, the 2011 Puyehue-Cordón Caulle eruption and the 2012 wildfires.
In other words, we’re probably lucky the Wall is still standing…
The Director of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, Mordechai (Suli) Eliav, told President Piñera about the history of the site and the fact that it is a house of prayer for all nations (much like the real house, only a few yards up, which Israel has gifted to the Muslims).
President Piñera also heard about Jewish yearning for Jerusalem throughout the generations. He expressed vast knowledge of history and was deeply impressed, despite this not being his first visit to the Western Wall. He received an album about the Western Wall Tunnels as a souvenir.
Rabbi Rabinowitz said that visiting the Western Wall expresses identification with the values and heritage of the Jewish nation.
Only since the 16th century, to be exact. Until then, Jews used to pray on the Temple Mount itself and not at the supporting wall build by Herod 2,000 years ago.
Piñera remarked that the students of a local school named for Anne Frank prepared notes with their prayers which they gave him to place in the cracks between the stones of the Wall.
Again, phew, no stone fell out, as they’ve been known to do in recent years…
The President of Chile signed the Western Wall guest book with a prayer asking God to bring peace to the Holy Land.