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Prayers by Proxy - World Jewish Digest

BY SIMONA FUMA

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Photo: Lia Rostenne

Sick, lonely, down on your luck? For centuries Jews have visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem to entreat God for special blessings. According to religious tradition, after the destruction of the Second Temple, God’s presence never left the wall that stood on the western side of the Temple compound.

Now, the age of the Internet has brought the Wall closer to the geographically challenged. There are webcams offering streaming video of people at prayer (www.thekotel.org), as well as a free service that allows you to email a note to be placed in the Wall’s crevices (www.aish.com/wallcam).

Most recently, a former corporate lawyer from Toronto founded http://www.westernwallprayers.org/, where for $90 and up you can [donate to have] an observant Orthodox Jew to pray at the Wall on your behalf for 40 consecutive days.

“The 40 days is a well-known segula, a kind of kabbalistic recipe [to have your prayers answered],” explains Batya Burd, 31, the company’s founder. “My best friend came [to pray at the Wall] for 40 days. On the fortieth day, a guy she used to date flew in [to Israel] for her and that week he proposed.”

Though Burd believes it is better to appear at the Wall in person, there is a long tradition of [donating to have a Jew] recite prayers on another’s behalf. In the year that the website has been up, Burd has arranged for hundreds of 40-day prayer cycles. She said that about one third of her [donors] would describe themselves as Orthodox, while the rest run the gamut from Conservative to unaffiliated to not Jewish. The most commonly requested prayers involve overcoming personal adversity: illness, infertility or finding a mate.

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