Photo Essay: Jews Bless the New Dawn at Masada 5769

Nearly two hundred men, women and children managed to reach the top of Masada in time to bless the rising sun on the morning of the Passover seder.

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Hana Levi Julian,

The Blessing of the Sun 5769/2009 at Masada
The Blessing of the Sun 5769/2009 at Masada
Israel News Photo: Hana Levi Julian

Nearly two hundred men, women and children managed to make it to the top of the Judean desert fortress of Masada last week in time to bless the rising sun in a rare ceremony that takes place only once in every 28 years.

From the dawn of time, the sun has never failed to rise
Photo: Hana Levi Julian

Jews around the world recited the blessing from a variety of locations, each in different time zones. The ceremony conducted by Rabbi Shimon Elharar, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of the Dead Sea, began with Shacharit, the Morning Service, as the first pink streaks of light raced across the sky.

Photographer readies for the shot
Photo: Hana Levi Julian
Worshippers scattered throughout the ruins to offer private prayers prior to the Blessing of the Sun
Photo: Hana Levi Julian
 
The sun makes its first appearance through the ruins of Masada
Photo: Hana Levi Julian
 
Birkat HaChama is a special time for prayers
Photo: Hana Levi Julian
 
A worshipper prays the morning service in the new morning light
Photo: Hana Levi Julian
 
Each drew inspiration from the event in his own way
Photo: Hana Levi Julian
 
Women also came to participate in the rare event
Photo: Hana Levi Julian
 
The special Blessing of the Sun concluded with a duet performed by Rabbi Elharar and singer Inbar Tzubari, the nigun (melody) composed by the first Lubavitcher Rebbe some 250 years ago, sung by Chabad Chassidim on special occasions.
 
Discussing the laws of blessing the sun, Rabbi Shimon Elharar and singer Inbar Tzubari
Photo: Hana Levi Julian
 
Young boys scamper over the ruins while their elders pray
Photo: Hana Levi Julian
 
 
Rabbi Shimon Elharar explains the significance and procedure for Blessing the Sun
Photo: Hana Levi Julian

Eitan Campbell, director of the Masada National Park, told Israel National News that he was deeply impressed by the dedication of the Jews who struggled to reach the site in time to see the sunrise, some coming from locations more than an hour's drive away.

There were a number of people who surmounted extraordinary difficulties in order to participate
Photo: Hana Levi Julian

"We had a very good showing," said Campbell, who personally opened the park early for the occasion. "I think this was an important event, both for those who participated and for Masada itself. We were glad to do it," he smiled.

Some came to watch, if not to pray
Photo: Hana Levi Julian

International Chassidic singing superstar Mordechai Ben David was also spotted standing quietly off to the side, but he and two friends slipped away before anyone could call attention to their presence.

The Blessing
Photo: Hana Levi Julian

"See you back here in 28 years," Rabbi Elharar cheerfully told the crowd with a grin. "May it be a time in which the Messiah will already have arrived!"