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Tens of Thousands Attend Priestly Benediction in Jerusalem

reprinted from Haaretz
16 October 08

Jewish worshippers congregate at Western Wall for traditional Sukkot event; chief Ashkenazi, Sephardic rabbis bless nation. 'God will call off requests, cancel thoughts of those planning to harm people of Israel,' says Rabbi Shlomo Amar

by Neta Sela

Tens of thousands participated Thursday in the traditional Birkat Hakohanim (priestly benediction) which takes places at the Western Wall in Jerusalem every mid-holiday of Sukkot (intermediate days of the Jewish holiday between its first and last full days).

Present at the scene were Israel's chief rabbis. Rabbi Yona Metzger read a section of psalms and Rabbi Shlomo Amar blessed the crowd.

Later, Rabbi Amar turned to the crowd, which was particularly large, and told them that "our woes have recently multiplied and our enemies have raised their heads in pride." Thus, he dedicated a special prayer and read verses which the audience repeated after him.

The yearly Western Wall tradition

Rabbi Amar blessed those present with a blessing of success and good health and expressed his wishes that the nation of Israel will know no sickness, terror attacks and earthquakes, and prayed that "God will call off the requests and cancel the thoughts of those planning to harm the people of Israel."

In the afternoon, the congregants carried out an event which takes place once every seven years at the end of the fallow year in remembrance of the revelation of Sinai and for the sake of educating the nation in the ways of the Torah.

As part of the event, the president or king of the nation in that specific period commands the nation to read select portions of Deuteronomy.

Rabbis Metzger, Amar and Ovadia Yossef, past chief rabbis and Chief Rabbinate councilors participated in the event.

Two new Torah scrolls were introduced at the event. The first, an Ashkenazi scroll, was contributed by donator George Birnbaum and the second, a Sephardic Torah, was contributed by businessman Ira Rennert.



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