Thousands mark Rachel’s yahrtzeit at Bethlehem tomb

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, head of Shas’s Council of Torah Sages, visits the site overnight Sunday accompanied by Interior Minister Eli Yishai.

311_Rachels Tomb (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
311_Rachels Tomb
(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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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, Shvinger said.