(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Thousands of people began arriving at Rachel’s Tomb in northern Bethlehem at sundown on Monday, to mark the anniversary of the matriarch’s death, 11 Heshvan.
Rabbi Yosef Shvinger, director of the National Center for Holy Sites, said he expected around 60,000 people to arrive for prayers, mostly women.
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One of Jacob’s wives, Rachel died after giving birth to Benjamin, and her grave draws barren women asking for children and pregnant women praying for an easy birth.
Jerusalem Police have barred private vehicles from the tomb area, and buses will be shuttling people into the compound, which is secured by the IDF. Emergency medical crews will be on standby, due to the high temperatures.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the head of Shas’s Council of Torah Sages, visited
the site overnight Sunday, accompanied by Rabbi of the Western Wall and
Holy Sites Shmuel Rabinovitch as well as Shas’s chairman Interior
Minister Eli Yishai and Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias.
Shvinger, who also came, said Yosef asked to visit the site after not
being there for years. Yosef broke out in tears almost immediately after
beginning to pray at the gravesite for divine mercy for all of Israel,