The Ashkenazi Jewish community throughout the world,joined the Sephardi sector Saturday night, in reciting the daily slichot [penitential] prayers a week before Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the new year.
Slichot are normally said at dawn, but the first Ashkenazi service is said at midnight after the Shabbat preceding, at least by several days, the new year holiday. Sephardi Jews have been saying slichot at dawn since the first day of the Hebrew month of Elul.
As can be seen in the following video (courtesy of Kuvien images), the traditional Shofar blast was heard late last night at the Kotel (the Western Wall), along with Slichot in a variety of liturgical styles and ethnic accents.
Not even standing room was available at the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem, where renowned Cantor Chaim Adler and the synagogue's choir led by Eli Jaffe, involved the congregants in moving, traditional melodies, ending with Rabbi Chaim Banet's haunting tune for "Machnisei Rachamim" - a plea for "those who approach the Almighty to bring Him feelings of mercy, to bring Him our prayers, cries and tears, for He listens to prayers and forgives those who weep; tell Him our good deeds so He will prevent the destruction of His flock."
The Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rav Shlomo Amar, prefaced the prayers at the Great Synagogue with a sermon in which he spoke seriously of the threats facing the Jewish people from anti-Semites and specifically, Iran.
The Slichot service, led by singer and cantor Yitzchak Meir, was held in what is known as "Reb Shlomo Carlebach style", combining the legendary musician and educator's music, melodies and spirituality, accompanied by musical instruments as the service takes place after the Sabbath. The full service can be viewed in the following video.
The public is called to attend a special solemn Slichot service to be held at the Western Wall on Monday night at midnight, to pray for deliverance from those who have threatened to destroy the State of Israel and the "evildoer from Iran, who hates us as did the wicked Haman in the days of Mordecai and Esther". The prayers will be led by rabbis and yeshiva heads from all over Israel, including Rabbi Chaim Druckman, Rabbi Zalman Melamed of Beit El, Rabbi Yakov Shapira of Merkaz HaRav, Rabbi Dov Lior of Kiryat Arba, Rav Shmuel Eliyahu of Tsfat, Rabbi Yoram Aberg'il of Netivot, Rabbi Chaim Cohen (haChalban) and others.