40,000 throng Western Wall Plaza for Birkat Hakohanim

Photo Gallery: Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin attend priestly blessing in Jerusalem.

Some 40,000 Jewish worshipers thronged the Western Wall Plaza Sunday to take part in the bi-annual Priestly Blessing, which usually occurs on the second intermediate days of Sukkot and Pesach.

The blessing, known in Hebrew as the Birkat Hakohanim, is a public gathering in which the Kohanim – the priestly class – bestow upon the Jewish people a three-fold blessing that originated with the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai attended, as did Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin.
Massive police presence ensured that the prayers passed peacefully and without incident.
During the Priestly Blessing in October 2009 massive rioting broke out on the Temple Mount and throughout east Jerusalem, following rumors circulated by Muslim priests that spoke of a "Jewish plot" to take over the incendiary holy site.