On a fax and a prayer

'Fax your way to heaven' is Israel's new answer to modern prayer, writes Sarah Helm.

Yesterday Israel's telephone company, Bezek, installed a prayer fax machine at the Wailing Wall, Judaism's holiest site. Herod the Great must have squirmed in his grave. For centuries Jews have left wishes in the cracks in the wall - the last vestige of the temple built by Herod the Great in 20BC - believing they wouldbe granted. Now the pious Jew can simply dial the Wailing Wall number - from anywhere in the world - and Bezek promises the message will get through.

But there is a small hitch. Once a week the fax will be switched off: according to Jewish law the use of electricity, even when seeking divine intervention, is banned on the Sabbath.