Thousands expected to participate in 2-day Succot pilgrimage to Jerusalem

Walk aims to "unify Israeli people in aftermath of Operation Protective Edge."

THESE MARCHERS took part in the 1975 Succot pilgrimage to Jerusalem (photo credit: COURTESY MITCHABRIM)
THESE MARCHERS took part in the 1975 Succot pilgrimage to Jerusalem
In a symbolic gesture of unification following a summer of division, death and conflict, some 8,000 Israelis are expected to participate in a two-day Temple-era style succot pilgrimage to Jerusalem this week.
Coordinated by Mitchabrim (“Connect”), participants in the revived tradition will include numerous government ministers, MKs and the parents of murdered yeshiva student Naftali Fraenkel, Rachel and Avi Fraenkel, organizers of the event said.
Every facet of Israeli society will be represented in this week’s march, including Israeli Arabs and Druse, Ram Shmueli and Avihu Soffer, who are spearheading the event, said in a joint statement.
“The objective is to unify the people and Israeli society in the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge,” the organizers said. “There is grave concern over divisiveness, ignorance and a disconnection between the different parts of Israeli society.
“The people taking part in the march prefer the things that bring the different parts of society together over the things that divide,” they added.
The Israeli government and IDF first revived the pilgrimage in 1955 as a four-day march. After 13 years, it was scaled back to three days, and eventually, in the 1970s, was refined to a symbolic walk around Jerusalem.
One participant, Shlomo Betat, of Gan Yavne, said he will bring his children and grandchildren to retrace his steps, 51 years after first taking part in the pilgrimage as an IDF soldier.
“I took part in the four-day march in 1963 as a soldier in the Artillery Corps,” Betat said.
“My children and my grandchildren are very excited. They went and found the medal I received when I completed the march 50 years ago.”
Mitchabrim was established in 2012 in coordination with the Ministry of Diaspora and the World Zionist Organization to strengthen Diaspora Jewish identity and connections to Israel.
The march is being funded by six government ministries.