Slichot at the Western Wall.
Slichot at the Western Wall.Flash90

Slichot, the traditional Jewish prayers before and during the High Holidays, began for Ashkenazic communities in Israel on Saturday night, prompting thousands to attend prayer services at the Western Wall (Kotel). 

The Sephardic community began slichot prayers several weeks ago, at the beginning at the month of Elul. The beginning of slichot for Ashkenazic communities, however, usually engenders a nationwide turnout for emotional prayer sessions in Jerusalem and worldwide - and are an opportunity to unite the global Jewish community across ethnic and regional lines. 

Slichot prayers are held just after midnight or close to dawn, according to local custom, and feature emotional prayers and, often, the blowing of the shofar

The additional prayer sessions end after Yom Kippur, which falls this year on October 3.