The latest marriage of technology and millennia-old traditions enables anyone with a special request, at least $80 to spare and Internet access to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
Batya Burd, 31, a former corporate lawyer from Toronto now living in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, has founded an Internet [non-profit] that offers personal prayers at the Western Wall and other Jewish religious sites.
“Who doesn’t want their prayers answered?,” Burd asked rhetorically during a recent interview in her apartment.
Burd became an observant Jew after a Birthright Israel trip in 2001, and immigrated to Israel soon after. She and her husband Gershon, a full-time yeshiva student, established their [non-profit, www.WesternWallPrayers.org], last year. It took off quickly through word of mouth and advertisements on Google.
The main service offered is 40 days of consecutive prayers at the Western Wall, where God’s presence is said to permanently dwell. The number was selected because of its recurrence throughout the Bible, among others as the number of days that Moses stayed on Mount Sinai before the giving of the Torah.
Burd explained that hiring a proxy is an acceptable religious alternative for people who don’t have daily access to the wall. “People do have to pray for themselves too,” she insisted, “but the more people you have praying for you, the better.”