Hundreds Pray at the Site of Synagogue Massacre

Yom Kippur Katan prayers held Thursday morning, just 2 days after deadly attack in Har Nof; 'to revive the shattered hearts of the orphans.'

Yoni Kempinski ,

תפילת יו"כ קטן
תפילת יו"כ קטן
צילום: חזקי עזרא

Hundreds gathered at the "Kehillat Bnei Torah" synagogue in Jerusalem's Har Nof neighborhood for an emotional mass-prayer Thursday morning, just two days after a deadly terrorist attack there killed five people and left several others seriously injured.

The prayers were held in honor of Yom Kippur Katan (literally "minor Yom Kippur"), a monthly "mini day of atonement" observed by many Orthodox Jews before the start of each new Hebrew calendar month.

The prayers were held in the main synagogue hall, but the hundreds of people who arrived at the synagogue in a show of solidarity spilled out into the downstairs synagogue where the brutal attack itself took place. 

Posters announcing the prayers communicated the sense of loss and "spiritual melancholy" at "the horrible disaster that struck our home, where the Hand of God was among us, May God have mercy - a thing which no human being can comprehend."

"At the site of the terrible slaughter we will pour out prayers and supplications to the Merciful and Gracious God, that He should grant a full recovery to the mortally ill, that they should live, and to revive the broken and shattered hearts of the widows and the orphans."

Worshipers cloaked in their tallitot (prayer shawls) and tefillin (phylacteries) filled the building, as the prayers were led by the Rosh Yeshiva (dean) of the Kiryat Melech yeshiva, Rabbi Shmuel Bornstein.

In addition, those in attendance were request to observe a one-day fast - an act associated with repentance, introspection and spiritual healing. Those who were unable to fast were asked to make a donation to charity instead.

Four worshipers and a police officer were killed Tuesday morning when a pair of Palestinian terrorists stormed the synagogue armed with meat-cleavers and a pistol, before being shot dead in an exchange with police. Many of the wounded were left with horrific injuries, including severe facial and head wounds.

The attack on a place of worship, in such a brutal and bloody fashion, has sent shock waves throughout Israel and drawn calls for tougher action against Arab and Islamist extremists.