Birchat Kohanim Attracts Kotel Crowds

The annual Birchat Kohanim, the Priestly Blessing 

at the Kotelthe Western Wall, on Chol HaMoed Sukkot,

is known to attract large crowds.

Jaffa Gate

Entering the Old City by way of the Jaffa Gate the crowds looked normal,

with the plaza all ready for a large Sukkot holiday fair.

Muslim Shuk. Arab market

The Muslim Shuk was set for the Jewish crowd, with talitot for sale

Arab shuk, Muslim Quarter

and there was even an Israeli flag on display.

Muslim Quarter

I started out late, and was surprised to find that

the route to the security entrance was not the one I usually take.

crowd birchas kohanim

The crowd grew and waited very impatiently

 there was nearly a riot as security personnel would let no one in.

Jerusalem riots

It was very hot, uncomfortable and impossible to move,

then the crushing crowd surged forward and pushed everyone along.

Wailing WAll

Inside the plaza area I saw the regular crowded holiday scenes,

Kossel

with people as far as you could see, both to the right

lulav sukkot

and to the left.

Western Wall

The Kotel, the Western Wall is usually packed with people on Sukkot,

Kossel Sukkot

and certainly for the Birchat Kohanim.

This year, 

Birkat Chohanim

there were people watching 

Old City Sukkot

from rooftops,

Kosel Sukkos

stairwells and small passages.

There seemed to be fewer kohanim

Birkat kohanim

   with arms raised and covered by white talitot, but

birchas kohanim

 there were hundreds of raised arms taking photos on their cellphones.

Old City

After the blessing, the trick was to find a way to leave,

birchas chohamin

again pushing through the crowds. 

Aish Ha torah

At least this man found some solitude

in the sukkah on the roof of Aish HaTorah.

.

Old city streets

Regular folks grabbed whatever spot they could,

Old City streets

while others slowly proceeded out to the Jewish Quarter.

I thought that I was finished with the crowds, but then I went to Beit Hanasi

for the Israeli President’s annual open sukkah.

Wow, was I wrong–but those photos

will have to wait for later, as there are more crowds 

again on the streets for the Jerusalem Parade. 

Whatever estimates you see quoted for this year’s Birchat Kohanim, 

they will have to be low if they do not include the thousands 

who were outside the plaza area and unable to get in.

Moadim L’Simcha !

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