JERUSALEM (Nov. 20)
If you’d like to see the Western Wall but can’t afford the plane fare, your computer terminal could be the next best thing.
On Dec. 5, the first night of Chanukah, an Israeli multimedia company will launch a live video feed, via the Internet, from the Western Wall plaza.
Avi Moskowitz, a native New Yorker who founded Virtual Jerusalem a year ago, said the company will transmit live “photos” of the Wall, or Kotel, and adjoining Temple Mount.
The service, which is free of charge, will enable Internet users anywhere in the world to access the photos, which will be updated every 30 seconds.
Virtual Jerusalem designs and hosts World Wide Web sites for Jewish organizations and media, including the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
It also offers Web surfers the chance to mail prayers electronically to the Western Wall with strict confidentiality assured.
The company decided to install a “Kotel Cam” to give “people of all faiths the opportunity to really experience the city’s holiness,” Moskowitz said.
In addition to attracting Internet users and advertisers to the company’s popular web page — which reportedly receives more than 100,000 “hits” each day — Moskowitz hopes the new service will provide some divine inspiration.
“For centuries, Jews, Muslims and Christians have flocked to Jerusalem by horse, donkey and camel,” he said. “Jews, who traditionally face east, toward Jerusalem, while praying, will now have the opportunity to look at the Wall while saying their daily prayers at home or at work.”
Moskowitz said the camera, which will be mounted on a yeshivah that borders the back of the plaza, will be turned off every Shabbat.
He said that the privacy of those visiting the Wall will not be an issue, since the camera will provide a panoramic view of the Wall, but no close-ups.
Officials at the Chief Rabbinate said they would monitor the camera to ensure that it does not violate the site’s sanctity.
To access the Kotel Cam, log on to Virtual Jerusalem’s home page at http:// www.virtual.co.il.