A mass prayer rally was staged at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem on Saturday night for the welfare of soldiers fighting in Gaza, in Operation Protective Edge.
Several thousand people attended the rally in the capital, and the prayers were led by former Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, with several other senior rabbis in attendance, including kabblistic rabbis David Batzri, Benyahu Shmueli and Yaakov Ades.
Chief Rabbi David Lau called on people to read passages from the Book of Psalms for the success and safety of the IDF, after the announcement that a ground operation was initiated, on Thursday night.
“They are emissaries performing a [religious] commandment for the entire nation, and all of us must pray for their well-being and for them to return home in peace,” the chief rabbi said.
As well as calls for prayers and unity in Israel, the Tzohar rabbinical association initiated a call for solidarity with Israel from Diaspora communities, asking them to come and visit the country at this time.
“Israel and our people are in an Et Tzara – a time of crisis,” said Tzohar chairman Rabbi David Stav. “The role of Jews all over the world must be to pray for the welfare of our soldiers and our people, but also to show your solidarity by choosing the next possible time to come and be with us.”
In a letter distributed to rabbis around the world, Stav said that particularly at this time of the Jewish year, the three weeks, when the Jewish people commemorate historical tragedies it is incumbent that Israel not be forsaken.
“The IDF soldiers are not only protecting the citizens of Israel, they are risking their lives in defense of the entire Jewish People. It is important that we all show our moral and spiritual support now, not just through words but through action.”
Stav added that despite the traditional custom to avoid extensive travel during the days preceding Tisha Be’av, support of Israel in this time supersedes any such considerations.
Tzohar offered to help coordinate missions to Israel and worked with tour company Jewish Journeys which volunteered its support for the cause.
In addition to the prayers of the public, patients with the Lev Malka charitable organization for the terminally ill began a program of reciting chapters from the Book of Psalms for the safety of soldiers involved in the operation.
“As is well established in Jewish sources, the prayers of children can penetrate the gates of heaven, and especially these children who have suffered but have such strong faith and trust in God,” said Rabbi Aharon Averman, chairman of Lev Malka.
“May it be His will that the prayers be accepted so that distress and anguish are heard no more on our borders.”