Selichot are emotional prayers asking G-d for forgiveness said before dawn during the period before and during the High Holydays. Sephardic Jews begin saying the prayers a full month before Rosh Hashanah, the New Year holiday, and most Israelis are familiar with the haunting tune they sing for the acrostic "Adon Haselichot", translated as "Master of forgiveness." Tours that visit some of the many historic sephardic synagogues in Jerusalem in the wee hours of the morning are filled with schoolchildren, soldiers, tourists and students on one year programs.
Ashkenazic Jews begin the selichot on the Saturday night preceding Rosh Hashanah that allows for a minimum of four services. This year, the selichot began ten days before the holiday which starts early next week. In Jerusalem, people filled the streets at ten and again at midnight, choosing to pray at a large variety of Ashkenazic synagogues from Carlebach (at 10:30 p.m.) to Merkaz Harav yeshiva (at 00:30 a.m.) to popular Religious style singer Yitzchak Meir, filmed by Arutz Sheva.
The video begins with a Chabad niggun followed by a Carlebach one and a stirring song to the verse "My heart and body will praise our living G-d." The use of musical instruments and the recital of serious prayers juxtaposed with rhythmic song and dance is meant to be attuned to today's Religious Zionist Israeli youth, explains Chanan Rubin of the Jerusalem municipality in Hebrew on the video, but the thousands of worshipers who filled the entire area run the gamut of Israel's population sectors and age groups.
May all the prayers of the Jewish people all over the world find their way to the Heavenly Throne. "...increase your supplications and cries before the King on High (from the Ashkenazic selichot)."