Tens of thousands of people participated on Monday night in the last Selichot (penitential prayers) before Yom Kippur at the Kotel (Western Wall).
The central selichot service was led by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, and Chief Rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yona Metzger, as well as by Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Kotel and Holy Places. Large crowds arrived throughout the night, and roads in central Jerusalem were jammed with vehicles, as people from around the country seek to participate in the event.
“You can see that the things that separate us are small, but the things that unite us are large,” Rabbi Rabinowitz told reporters on Monday evening, as he pointed to the crowd at the Kotel. “All of the Jewish people come here to connect to G-d and tradition,” he added.
On Sunday evening, approximately 20,000 worshipers attended a special community prayer of Selichot in Hevron, in memory of Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu zts”l. This event as well was attended by Israel’s chief rabbis as well as by other prominent rabbis and public figures.
Rabbi Amar said during Sunday’s community prayer, “The people of Israel are strengthened through prayers, supplications, Selichot, Torah study and self-criticism. We calculate our ways before G-d so we can repent with all our hearts and now we're close to that great day - Yom Kippur.”
He added, “We have a lot to ask from G-d - there are threats and troubles and persecution at home and abroad. How much can we elaborate and ask? Let us all concentrate on one request: Let us all ask for the coming of Mashiach this year. We will waive any other requests to concentrate on this one.”
The community Selichot prayer in Hevron was an initiative of Rabbi Eliyahu, Israel's former Sephardic Chief Rabbi, who founded the event years ago and used to come to the Cave of the Patriarchs every year during the Ten Days of Repentance. Since the rabbi’s death, the Jewish community in Hevron decided to continue the tradition and hold an annual central Selichot prayer in his memory.