Roughly 100,000 Jews gathered at the Western Wall in Jerusalem late Thursday night for special Selichot prayers ahead of the Yom Kippur holiday.
The mass Selichot prayer event was hosted by the two Chief Rabbis of Israel: Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef and Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi David Lau, along with the Chief Rabbi of the Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, the Mayor of Jerusalem Moshe Lion, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, and MK Gabi Ashkenazi, the chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs Committee.
According to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, an estimated one-and-a-half million people visited the Western Wall Plaza during the month of Elul, which precedes the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur holidays, and the ten days in between the Jewish new year and Jewish day of atonement.
“The great flood of people during the past month to the Western Wall Plaza during all hours of the day brought together people from all different groups and backgrounds – religious and non-religious, young and old – testifies to the deep ties all different groups in Israel have to the Western Wall and to Jewish tradition,” the Western Wall Heritage Foundation said in a statement.
Rabbi Rabinovitch, the chief rabbi of the Western Wall, said it was “touching to see worshippers coming at all hours, day and night, and joining with tens of thousands of strangers, including people very different from themselves, and joining together to break down barriers. There’s nothing more Jewish than that. The tribes of Israel were brought together, in a way that only the Western Wall can do.”