Hundreds in white tallitot gather for Birkat Kohanim at Western Wall

2021-09-22 12:29:37

As always during the Hol Hamoed days of Sukkot and Passover, worshippers filled the Western Wall plaza on Wednesday morning to hold a joint prayer of Birkat Kohanim, the Priestly Blessing.

The tradition of conducting a mass event for the blessing has been a highlight of the week-long Sukkot and Passover holidays for over 50 years, with most occurrences holding tens of thousands of people in a huge blanket of white tallitot; now, under strict coronavirus regulations, only some several hundred have been allowed on the premises, Israeli media reported.
The Priestly Blessing – Birkat Kohanim – is a blessing made by the descendants of the Cohen family tree (usually surnamed Cohen, Katz etc.) at every morning minyan of Shacharit. During holidays, there is an additional Mussaf prayer after the morning services, and therefore a second Priestly Blessing every day.

Traditionally, the Kohanim face the congregation, holding their talit (prayer shawl) over their head with their palms open in the Cohen symbolic gesture, and bless the crowd with the words: “May G‑d bless you and guard you. May G‑d shine His countenance upon you and be gracious to you. May G‑d turn His countenance toward you and grant you peace.'”

Birkat Kohanim at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Birkat Kohanim at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The Western Wall plaza is currently hosting a small number of participants in comparison to past years. All worshippers are required to wear a mask during the prayers, and police and Magen David Adom forces are spread out at the scene to enforce COVID regulations, Israeli media reported.

The COVID outline for the prayers involves capsules of worshippers allowed into the plaza on different days and at different times, to avoid large crowds. The attendees do not need to present a Green Pass, according to the Western Wall Heritage Site website.

Visit the Kotel website to view the prayers live.  

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