A growing number of organizations in Jerusalem are reportedly offering “proxy prayers” by priests and rabbis at holy sites for worshippers unable to make prayer at the ancient city.
Over years, Jerusalem has been a destination for pilgrimage for Jews, Christians and Muslims.
A report by The Guardian newspaper said there are businesses and fundraising charities who are offering those who are unable to visit Jerusalem but would like to hire “a surrogate to pray in their stead.”
Holy Land Prayer is one of these websites providing a package of services, ranging from $15 to $40, for a priest to read out a prayer in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site where Christians believe Jesus had been crucified and resurrected.
“We’re committed to treating everyone’s prayers with the respect they deserve. No matter how large or small your prayer is,” reads a statement on the website.
“You’ll choose one of our four services. We offer a standard prayer service, a prayer + candle service, a video service, and a personal photo service. Selecting your service is the first step. Just click the 'Send Prayer Now' button at the bottom of any service page,” the instructions say.
The website told The Guardian in an email that “several hundred prayers were processed a month, with most of the money being donated to the church.”
For Jews, several Jewish groups offer to print and place prayers on the Western Wall sent to them by email, the newspaper said.
“One ‘Western Wall prayer delivery service’ offers to deliver prayers within 30 days for $29, or an ‘express’ 24-hour delivery for $79 (discounted from $99),” the newspaper said.
Another Jewish charity accepts donations starting from $2 a day in return for “prayer agents” who are often rabbis or scholars, to pray at the site on behalf of the donor for 40 consecutive days.