Religion & Beliefs
The Kotel Is On Twitter
My name is Alon Nir. I’m a 25 year old graduate student from Tel Aviv. About 5 months ago, I started a Twitter service that lets petitioners tweet their prayers to the Western Wall. I take the tweeted prayers, make … Read More
My name is Alon Nir. I’m a 25 year old graduate student from Tel Aviv. About 5 months ago, I started a Twitter service that lets petitioners tweet their prayers to the Western Wall. I take the tweeted prayers, make them into tiny scrolls, and then place them in the crevices of the Wall. I’ll be honest, it is very time consuming, and other than studying it’s pretty much all I do (and, to be completely honest, I could be investing more in my schoolwork). The service is free, and will remain such because I believe the Kotel should be accessible to all. I won’t lie to you though: I have some hopes that one day a benevolent person of means will help out with the expenses.
I was recently asked why I am doing this if it takes such a personal toll on me. After answering this question to myself, I answered it to the inquiring friend. I thought I’d share with you what I found out about myself and my motivation.
First, I realized that as time passed and the service evolved, my reasons for doing it transformed as well. When I launched, I just wanted to try and do some good on Twitter, and make use of its platform, even without knowing any programming. I thought sending prayers to the Kotel might be a nice service to some, might benefit people around the globe, draw some positive attention to Israel, and wouldn’t consume too much time or effort.
THEN, it got big.
Less than three weeks after launch, the service got a lot of media attention, which instantly brought in thousands of new prayers. I stuck to my word and (somehow) got control over the situation. Having placed thousands and thousands of prayers and having received countless thank-you emails and testimonials, I can tell you I have earned some perspective about myself and about this service.
For starters, I have learned that this service means more to people than I thought. For so many people around the world, having their prayer delivered to Jerusalem means more than words can describe. This is true for people of other religions too, which has completely surprised me. Some people told me I give them hope, I give them strength, that I inspire them to lead better lives and help others. While those who surround me might not understand why I’m giving so much from myself for complete strangers I don’t know and will never meet, knowing I can affect people’s lives so much motivates me to work even harder and reach more people. I was given such a wonderful gift- the ability to help others – and it makes me want to make the most of it.
Another reason for doing this, and an even more bizarre one, is the love I get from people. I have a loving family, a loving girlfriend and good friends, but I found out that getting some love and appreciation from the strangers I serve is indeed important to me. Not a day goes by without receiving emotional emails from people thanking me for this service. Those emails energize me whenever I feel tired or overwhelmed. This weird relationship I’ve developed with the petitioners brings me joy because it proves that there is goodness in this world; that people from different countries and faiths can get along and show love without judgment or preconceptions. The love I get makes me believe that in the end, a better world is possible, and the microcosms of my twitter service shows exactly how: just do some good and disregard any differences between people. They’ll mirror what they’re receiving. Make love and take love. It can actually be that simple if we only try it out.