(JNS.org) Fifty-thousand people gathered to pray at Jerusalem’s Western Wall on Wednesday as part of a priestly blessing for Sukkot.
The Birkat HaCohanim (Hebrew for “priestly blessing”) takes place each year on Chol Ha'moed (intermediate days) during both the Sukkot and Passover holidays. For the past 45 years, the blessing has been conducted as part of a mass gathering at the Western Wall (or Kotel). The event is regularly attended by Israel's chief rabbis, currently Yitzhak Yosef and David Lau, as well as the rabbi of the Western Wall and the Holy Sites of Israel Shmuel Rabinovitch.
The mass blessing at the Western Wall took place this year despite ongoing tension and violent altercations at the nearby Temple Mount. Jerusalem police deployed extra forces around the Old City, vowing to show zero tolerance for any rioters. A day before the blessing, police continued arresting Palestinian stone-throwers as part of an Israeli government crackdown against anti-Jewish violent rioters.