The idea for Western Wall Prayers originally came from Gershon Burd. Gershon left his family’s insurance business in Chicago in 1999 to pursue full-time Torah studies at the Center Program at Ohr Somayach Yeshiva in Jerusalem. After 2 years, he moved to Yeshivas Bircas HaTorah in the Old City where he learned full-time until he became its Executive Director in 2004, after which he divided his time between a rigorous personal learning program and running much of the yeshiva’s day-to-day business and management affairs.
Gershon founded Western Wall Prayers together with his wife Batya Burd, a former lawyer who moved from her hometown of Toronto to Israel in 2001. She studied full-time at the Neve Yerushalayim and Eyaht seminaries before meeting and marrying Gershon in 2003. She also trained and certified as a spiritual therapist at the Psychospiritual Therapy Institute in Jerusalem. She brings these skills to her role at Western Wall Prayers, using an understanding and intuitive approach to help applicants articulate their personal prayers.
Now, Batya continues his legacy by giving classes on Emunah (faith in G-d) and advancing this beautiful project – joining Torah, Prayer and Charity at the Wall to help people realize their dreams.
How We Began
After 5 years of searching for his life partner through countless dates, Gershon Burd decided to try the 40-days-at-the-Wall segula in 2003. Unbeknownst to him, a friend was also praying 40 days at the Wall for him at the same time.
During the same period of time, Batya, who had not even been dating, was experiencing many life tests that made her realize she was ready to get married. After Gershon completed his 40 days, a mutual friend introduced them and two weeks later, Gershon and Batya were engaged.
Batya’s friend Lia, who lived in Toronto, arranged to travel to Jerusalem for the wedding. Like Gershon, she too was having difficulty finding her soul mate. Batya convinced Lia to take 40 days off of work to pray at the Wall for her zivug (soul mate). Upon her arrival in Israel, she rushed from the airport to reach the Wall by Sundown and visited everyday thereafter. On the 40th day, a man she had previously dated flew in to see her and they became engaged later that week.
After seeing such wondrous blessings granted to them, Gershon inspired Batya to offer people around the world access to the power of 40 days of prayer at the Wall. In light of the financial struggle experienced by so many Kollel families in Jerusalem, the Burds decided to launch Western Wall Prayers as a way to raise money for them. By Divine Providence, Lia’s husband Daniel owned a website-business and he agreed to donate a website and services to the Western Wall Prayers venture. Today, Batya and her assistant, Shira, help people to formulate their prayer requests, suggest positive practices that they may take on, and coordinate the rabbis, yeshiva students, and Kollel wives who pray daily at the Wall.