Priestly Blessing held for 100th time (Photo: Admon Hacohen, courtesy of Western Wall Heritage Foundation)
Hundreds of Kohanim blessed the worshippers with the following Biblical verses: "May the Lord bless you and guard you. May the Lord make his face shed light upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord lift up his face unto you and give you peace."
More than 70,000 people (Photo: Admon Hacohen, courtesy of Western Wall Heritage Foundation)
The prayer was attended by Israel's Chief Rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar, Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino.
Chief Rabbi Amar welcomes Police Commissioner Danino (Photo: Admon Hacohen, courtesy of Western Wall Heritage Foundation)
The Priestly Blessing tradition was founded in 1970 during the War of Attrition by Jerusalem resident Rabbi Menachem Mendel Gafner. It has been held for over 40 years, twice a year: On the intermediary days of Passover and Sukkot.
Chief Rabbi Metzger with Jerusalem Mayor Barkat and Knesset Speaker Rivlin (Photo: Admon Hacohen, courtesy of Western Wall Heritage Foundation)
During one of his prayers at the Western Wall, Gafner remembered a Talmudic verse which describes the merit of the Priestly Blessing even when the Temple was destroyed – and decided to renew the tradition.
According to Gafner's grandson, this was the 100th time the blessing was held since being renewed by his grandfather.
Masses flock to streets surrounding Western Wall (Photo: Shmuel Ben Yishai and Menachem Lev, News 24 agency)
These days the Western Wall Heritage Foundation is in charge of producing the event, which concludes with the chief rabbis and Western Wall rabbi welcoming visitors at the Kotel's sukkah.
Blessing Gilad Shalit
Priestly Blessing, Sunday morning (Photo: Shmuel Ben Yishai and Menachem Lev, News 24 agency)
The "world's greatest Priestly Blessing" for Shalit was initiated by the Youth for Jerusalem movement, which invited Kohanim from all over the world to unite in a joint Priestly Blessing on Facebook.
The movement explained that its goal was to allow all Jews in the Diaspora to take part in the Priestly Blessing, even if they are unable to physically visit the Western Wall, and let everyone pray together for Shalit's safe return.
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