Monday night, the 11th of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan, is the start of the yahrzeit (anniversary of date of death) of the Matriarch Rachel, one of the Jewish people's four Matriarchs.
On Monday evening, at precisely 5:30 p.m., thousands of children in Israel - estimates are 25,000 children! - prayed at their local synagogues in over 160 locatrions and at Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem, in an event organized by the "Mibreishit" Movement and the Gush Etzion Regional Authority, headed by Davidi Perl.
The prayers from Rachel's Tomb, led by the venerable Rabbi Chaim Drukman, Dean of Ohr Etzion yeshiva and former MK and head of the hesder yeshiva network, were broadcast in real time on Israel Radio's Heritage station so that children at home could take part as well. In many synagogues, the services were seen on video and the children prayed along with those at Rachel's Tomb.
Rabbi Drukman talked to the children about Rachel's kindness and good deeds and told them how children's prayers go straight to the Heavens.
The service included a prayer for IDF soldiers, for the recovery of those who are ill and for the advent of winter rains, followed by musical entertainment for the children..
"Mibreishit" has been organizing mass prayer services of children for eight years, but this is the first time one is being held at Rachel's Tomb. It puts out a weekly Torah booklet for youngsters of varying ages, containing riddles, cartoons, questions and commentary on the week's Torah portion and is studied by thousands of children along with their parents in father-son study sessions held in religious Zionist synagogues throughout Israel.
Davidi Perl, head of the Gush Etzion Regional Authority, who has turned to the government with a request to make Rachel's Tomb officially part of Gush Etzion, rather than, as it is today, an IDF enclave accessible only from Jerusalem but located within Bethlehem city limits, said in a statement: "There is nothing more fitting than prayers of children to remember the Matriarch Rachel in Bethlehem. May today's children's prayers be joined to those of Mother Rachel, who prays for her all of her children's welfare."