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God! They steal mail from you too

Jerusalem, Oct. 2 (Reuters): Thinking of writing a letter to God'

The address, according to those who regularly write to the Almighty, is “God, Jerusalem, Israel”. Alternatively, you could try: “God, the Wailing Wall”, a reference to the Jewish holy site known as the Western Wall.

Either address will ensure your letter ends up in the sorting room of the Israeli post office’s Dead Letters Department where it will be collected, placed in a velvet bag and posted to God through the cracks of the Western Wall.

Hundreds of people every year jot down their prayers, wishes or problems and mail their notes to the Holy City where the creed of the Dead Letter Department’s postmen is to ensure that every piece of mail reaches its destination -- rain or shine.

“We are going through a peak period at the moment,” said harried Dead Letters Department manager, Avi Yaniv.

The usual trickle of letters to God has become a torrent before Yom Kippur, the holiday where Jews atone for their sins. “Dear God...Once a long time ago, I stole ashtrays from hotels and glasses with advertising logos. At the time I didn’t think much about it,” wrote one woman. “Now I would like to ask for your forgiveness.”

Letters to Jesus and a greeting card celebrating the Jewish New Year addressed to “The Angels in Heaven” are also delivered to the Western Wall, one of Judaism’s holiest sites, where Jews traditionally insert notes with prayers and wishes.

“We squeeze the letters in between the gaps,” said Yaniv.

The deliveries to the Western Wall have been going on for years since the Dead Letters postmen decided that since there was no way to return the letters to the unknown senders, they might as well be delivered to the recipient -- God.

The latest letters collected in a plush bag, normally used to store Jewish prayer shawls, come from as far as Australia, India, Ghana, France, Nigeria and the US.

Some of the writers ask God for help sticking to a diet, beg for assistance holding a troubled marriage together, or fighting off the ravages of cancer.

Others are just plain avaricious. “Dear God, please grant me the millionaire’s life,” wrote one person.

Darryl from Tennessee had a slightly more humble request. “I will be happy if you employ me as one of your (bull)dozer operators in your company,” he wrote.

The Dead Letters Department workers were once so moved by a letter in which the author listed a litany of personal problems that they collected 4,300 shekels ($1,000) of the 5,000 shekels ($1,200) he requested from God in his letter and sent it to him.

“Two months later they received another letter from the same man written to God,” said Yitzhak Rabihiya, spokesman for the Israeli postal department.

“They thought he was probably sending his thanks. But at the end of the letter he wrote: 'Thank you for the money but, please, next time don’t send it through the postal service. Those thieves stole 700 shekels!”

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