Jewish worshippers at the tomb of Shimon Hatz
Jewish worshippers at the tomb of Shimon Hatz Flash 90

Tens of thousands of Jews are expected Wednesday night at the Tomb of Shimon Hatzaddik, identified in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers, a Talmudic compilation of wise sayings and concepts by the Sages) as one of the “last of the Great Assembly” - the Anshei Knesset HaGedolah, which helped fashion Jewish religious life during the Second Temple period and beyond.

Thursday and Friday of this year (4/5 Heshvan) is considered to be the anniversary of his passing, and the event Wednesday night, called a ​hiloula, is expected to last for two days, and will be a celebration of the sage's life. Known in English as Simeon the Just, he was a kohain gadol, or high priest during the Second Temple period.

Hundreds of police will be on guard to ensure that the event goes smoothly. The Tomb is located in a neighborhood in the eastern part of Jerusalem named after the sage. Dozens of Jews live in proximity to the Tomb, but they are surrounded by thousands of Arabs – and many Jewish residents of the area, as well as visitors, have complained of ongoing attacks by Arab extremists. In 2012, police set up a station adjacent to the Tomb in response to the ongoing attacks.

Among those expected to visit Wednesday night will be Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, as well as newly installed Sephardic Rabbi of Jerusalem, Rabbi Shlomo Amar. Police have asked those planning to attend not to drive to the site themselves; shuttle buses are set to transport people back and forth to the site throughout Wednesday and Thursday, and visitors can also use the light rail, which has a stop right across from the Tomb.