Thousands gathered at the Western Wall Plaza in the Old City of Jerusalem Wednesday morning for the mass Birkat HaKohanim (Priestly Blessing) ceremony marking the Sukkot festival.
This year’s event, which has been scaled down due to the coronavirus pandemic, is set to be split into two days, with a similar ceremony slated for Thursday morning.
Some 8,000 people took part in Wednesday’s event, with attendees divided up into separate capsules at the Western Wall Plaza.
The central morning prayer ceremony began at 8:45 a.m., with the Priestly Blessing itself being held at 9:15 a.m. The Priestly Blessing for the Mussaf prayer service began at 10:15 a.m.
The Ashkenazi and Sefardic Chief Rabbis of Israel, Rabbi David Lau and Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, joined the ceremony Wednesday.
Hundreds of Israeli police officers, Border Police officers and volunteers have been deployed throughout the city of Jerusalem, with an emphasis on the Old City area and the traffic routes in the area.
On Tuesday, police announced that as part of the police activity, checkpoints will be set up around the city in order to direct the public attempting to reach the Western Wall Plaza, in accordance with traffic and the number of participants set by the political echelon.
Due to this arrangement, many streets in and around the Old City will be closed to traffic.
The public is asked to refrain from traveling to the area of the Old City area during the holidays by private vehicles and to avail themselves of public transportation and the light rail.