They prey on you everywhere. You go to shul and they hit you up for money. You sit at home and they knock at your door and ask for money. You go to the Western Wall of the Holy Temple and they hit you up for money.
I hate it!
I visited the Wall in July 2000 and within five minutes, I was descended upon by beggars! I wanted to pray and get close to God and these blokes were bothering me about money.
According to an article in the Maariv newspaper, police went undercover to expose the small band of criminals that beat up and threatened beggars that gather at the holiest site in Judaism.
The three-month investigation determined that the gang would extort half the money from beggars, had burned the beggars with cigarette butts, and would sometimes dress up as beggars themselves.
"To great sorrow, it is clear, on the basis of the investigative material and good intelligence work, that criminal elements did not skip over the Western Wall, which is holy to all of us," the judge in the case said.
Western Wall beggars have always posed a conundrum for Jerusalem.
A few years ago, Western Wall officials tried to ban begging at the Western Wall after the number of beggars exploded and they became more aggressive in seeking money.
One abusive beggar reportedly approached some German tourists and tried to play on their guilt.
"You killed our people, now give some money," the beggar reportedly demanded.
"It is a great shame that the deeds of a few cause such a harsh blow to charity and to a disgrace of God. In my conception and outlook it is part of the atmosphere of the Western Wall Plaza to be charitable and it is sad that such a thing must be impeded," said Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich, rabbi of the Western Wall. "But to my regret my requests and pleading were not accepted and this situation of enforcement was forced on us all. How can we stand to see fellow Jews being forcibly removed from the Western Wall? Is this what we’ve dreamed of? Definitely not!"