Page last updated at 09:28 GMT, Friday, 24 July 2009 10:28 UK

Tweeting prayers to Western Wall

File photo of letters sent by believers to Jerusalem's Western Wall
New technology is being used to offer alternative ways to send prayers

Jewish people outside Jerusalem wishing to post a prayer on the Western Wall now have a new way of doing so - using the social networking service Twitter.

The prayers, sent as so-called tweets, are printed off and posted on the wall to sit alongside the thousands of other notes placed there by visitors.

Since the service began three weeks ago, hundreds of people have taken advantage of it.

The founder of the service says he has been stunned by its success.

On Thursday night, Alon Nil had more than 1,000 unread messages.

"I'm swamped. I can't keep up with all the tweets," he told the Associated Press.

"It started as a hobby, and I can't keep maintaining it by myself. But I'm determined to not lose even one prayer."

Iran example

Mr Nil said he realised the potential of Twitter after seeing how it was used by Iranians to share information and photos with the outside world during the recent post-election unrest in the country.

"There are an infinite number of uses for Twitter, and I thought 'What can I do that is new and creative and might benefit the people of Israel?'," he said.

The Western Wall, sometimes referred to as the Wailing Wall or simply the Kotel (wall), in Jerusalem's Old City is Judaism's holiest prayer site.

Thousands of believers come to place their prayers on handwritten notes between the 2,000-year-old stones in the hope their request will find a short-cut to God.

In recent years, people from overseas have been able to email and fax their prayers.

With the success of his Twitter service, Aron Nil is now looking for sponsorship to pay someone to help maintain the site or a programming service that can do some of the work for him.

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