The Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City hosted the traditional Passover priestly blessing service on Sunday, but unlike in previous years when the plaza was jam-packed with worshippers, the service was kept to an absolute minimum this year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The ceremony, held at Judaism’s holiest site during Passover and Sukkot, usually draws tens of thousands. This year, however, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation scaled it back to a mere quorum of 10 Jewish men, in accordance with the Israeli Health Ministry’s social-distancing directives. The ceremony was streamed on social and mainstream media websites.

A second service, also including only 10 men, was held at the Cave of the Patriarchs in the heart of the Old City of Hebron.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman was among the worshippers allowed to attend the Jerusalem ceremony.

“Today, I will be one of just 10 worshippers attending the ‘Priestly Blessing’ ceremony at the Western Wall. Last year, I was among 100,000; this year, unfortunately, far less. I will pray that the world is spared further illness or sorrow from COVID-19 or otherwise,” he tweeted.

The Western Wall Heritage Foundation invited “the tens of thousands of worshippers and the general public to join the prayer from home.”

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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