Chief Rabbi Amar at kotel.
(photo credit: Deborah Danan)
Thousands of people gathered at the Western Wall on Sunday just before 4 p.m.
for a mass prayer service led by Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar.
service comprised mainly of the Slihot prayers, traditionally said in the leadup
to the High Holy Days, and included special prayers for the safety of Israel’s
soldiers fighting in the Operation Pillar of Defense.
Amar was joined by
other rabbis including Rabbi David Batzri, Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, rabbi of
the Western Wall, and Rabbi Zamir Cohen, chairman of the Hidabroot
The chief rabbi called upon Jews to take upon themselves to
study more Torah – what he called “Israel’s ultimate weapon” – and in particular
to take upon themselves to study a page of the Zohar every day. He also
beseeched the Jewish nation to be particularly mindful of Shabbat observance at
this time of war, and to abstain from becoming embroiled in arguments with
Rachel Gesoff, a US citizen who has yet to make aliya, made
the trip to the Western Wall to join in the prayers.
“Being by the Kotel
was surreal,” she said. “I felt a sense of unity among my nation, people from
all walks of life and from all corners of the world are here with one clear
thought and intention: To protect our soldiers and protect our borders, and to
keep everyone safe physically and spiritually. It was an honor to see the face
of such a holy rabbi [Amar].”
Gesoff said that she was not nervous about
being in Israel right now, but the same cannot be said for her family in the
“My family expressed concern, however they think I’m being courageous
for staying here. Just to be here, praying in front of such righteous leaders
has brought comfort to me. I am confident that Hashem [God] will protect us and
that we will defeat our enemies once and for all and be safe in our land.”