In Pictures: Prayer and Repentance at the Kotel

Saturday night marked the start of the recital of "selichot" prayers for Ashkenazic Jews throughout the world.

Ari Soffer and Yoni Kempinsky ,

Crying out to G-d at the Western Wall
Crying out to G-d at the Western Wall
Flash 90

Thousands of worshippers gathered at the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem on Saturday night, to mark the beginning of the week of Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year).

Rosh Hashana is a two-day festival of reflection and repentance, and well as celebration, and marks the start of a ten day period of repentance leading up to Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) - the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.

In the week leading up to Rosh Hasahana, Ashkenazic Jews begin reciting ;selichot - a collection of penitential prayers, traditionally recited either late at night or in the early hours of the morning, prior to the daily shacharit morning prayers. Selichot prayers are recited every day until Yom Kippur.

Jewish calendar days begin at sundown, and Rosh Hashana starts this Wednesday night, so the end of the Jewish Sabbath saw throngs of Jewish worshippers making their way to the Kotel.

Unlike their Ashkenazic brethren, Sephardic and Yemenite Jews begin reciting selichot for a full month prior to Rosh Hashana.


Photos: Flash 90