As the holiday of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) approaches, preparations are underway for tens of thousands of visitors during the holiday, commemorating the pilgrimages.
This year, two services of the traditional "Birkat Kohanim" (Priestly Blessing) will be held at the Western Wall, with tens of thousands of people expected to attend.
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation stressed: "Those planning to attend the first Birkat Kohanim are kindly requested not to come to the second one, to allow all those interested in participating in this moving event to do so, and to reduce the congestion for the safety of those praying and visiting."
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation erects a special sukkah (tabernacle) every year for the benefit of the general public. One of these will have the arba minim, Four Species, so the mitzvah (commandment) will be accessible to all.
Due to the high demand and the public's desire to participate in the traditional Priestly Blessing ceremony, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation will hold this year's service twice. The first will take place on Monday, 17th Tishrei 5784, October 2, 2023, and the second will be held on Wednesday, 19th Tishrei 5784, October 4, 2023.
The services will take place with the participation of Israel's chief rabbis, Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef and Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi David Lau, alongside the rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, and Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion.
Shacharit (morning prayers) will begin at 8:45a.m., and the Birkat Kohanim of Shacharit will take place at 9:30a.m. Musaf will begin at 10:15a.m., with its Birkat Kohanim scheduled for 10:30a.m.
Both ceremonies will be broadcast live on the Western Wall Heritage Foundation's website.
The public intending to attend the first Birkat Kohanim on Monday is kindly requested not to attend the second one on Wednesday to enable all interested individuals to participate in this moving event.
Access to the Old City and the Western Wall will be closed if there is overcrowding, and the public is requested to follow the instructions of the ushers for the safety of the worshippers and visitors.
As is customary, "hakafot shniyot" will be held at the Western Wall Plaza on Saturday night, October 7, 2023, at 10:00p.m. following the conclusion of the Simchat Torah holiday. The event will be accompanied by a musical ensemble and amplification.