About 25,000 people gathered for the central Selichot service at the Western Wall on Thursday night, according to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation.
The Selichot prayers are recited in the days and weeks leading up to the Jewish High Holidays, as well as in the days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Sephardi Jews begin saying Selichot with the beginning of the month of Elul, while Ashkenazim only begin a few days before Rosh Hashana.
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation planned 17 central Selichot services for the thousands of worshippers expected this year, three of which have already taken place. The next scheduled central service is set to take place on Wednesday night.
While Selichot services are conducted every weeknight during the Jewish month of Elul and up until Yom Kippur, central services at the Western Wall are led by a cantor, with loudspeakers and screens set up in the plaza. The central services are also livestreamed on the Western Wall's website.
The Western Wall Heritage Foundation called on worshippers to come early in the month of Elul to Selichot services and not to wait until the end of the month and the days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur in order to spread out the crowds for the safety and welfare for all visitors to the Western Wall.
The central Selichot events will take place on the following dates:
- Wednesday, 13th of Elul, August 30, 2023
- Thursday, 14th of Elul, August 31, 2023
- Wednesday, 20th of Elul, September 6, 2023
- Thursday, 21st of Elul, September 7, 2023
- Saturday night, 23rd of Elul, September 9, 2023
- Sunday, 24th of Elul, September 10, 2023
- Monday, 25th of Elul, September 11, 2023
- Tuesday, 26th of Elul, September 12, 2023
- Wednesday, 27th of Elul, September 13, 2023
- Thursday, 28th of Elul, September 14, 2023, Erev Rosh Hashanah: Hatarat Nedarim (Annulment of vows) at midnight.
- Monday, 3rd of Tishrei, September 18, 2023, after the Fast of Gedaliah
- Tuesday, 4th of Tishrei, September 19, 2023
- Wednesday, 5th of Tishrei, September 20, 2023
- Thursday, 6th of Tishrei, September 21, 2023
- Saturday night, 8th of Tishrei, September 23, 2023
Further, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation is planning to host the annual Selichot tours in the Old City and the Western Wall Tunnels sites. The tours will occur after Selichot prayers and the traditional liturgical poems.