Birkat Hakohanim (Priestly blessing)
Birkat Hakohanim (Priestly blessing)Israel news photo

Members of the Biblical priestly class, Kohanim, blessed tens of thousands of worshipers at the Kotel (Western Wall) on Sunday morning. The entire Kotel plaza filled with Jews seeking their blessing, and many more crowded balconies and streets overlooking the Wall.

The Kohanim blessed the crowd twice, once during the Shacharit (morning) service and again during Mussaf.

Kohanim are those related by direct patrilineal descent from the first High Priest of the Jewish people, Aharon, the brother of Moshe (Moses) . They blessed the congregants using the three Torah verses traditionally recited by Kohanim during the time of the First and Second Temples (Numbers 6:24-26).

In Israel, the blessing is recited daily, while in the Diaspora it is only said on festival days. The mass blessing performed at the Kotel happens twice a year, during the festivals of Passover and Sukkot.

When prayers concluded, the two Chief Rabbis of Israel and the Rabbi of the Kotel greeted visitors in a sukkah set up for the occasion. The Kotel tunnels were open, but due to the popularity of the tour, only those who reserved a spot in advance were able to enter.