Tens of thousands gathered at the Western Wall Plaza in the Old City of Jerusalem Wednesday morning for the annual Priestly Blessing ceremony.
The tradition of holding the ceremony at the holy sight was started 52 years ago by Menachem Mendel Gaffner and is organized by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation during the intermediate days of Sukkot and Passover. During the ceremony, hundreds of priests (Kohanim) bless the crowd with the ancient blessing that is written in the Torah.
Later in the day, three Torah scrolls were dedicated and a celebratory ceremony commemorating the “Hakhel” ceremony, which takes place once in seven years, took place.
The ceremony which is mentioned in the Torah, takes place at the end of the sabbatical (Shmitta) year, during the time of the temple the king of Israel would read from the Torah in the temple courtyard.
The annual Simchas Beis Hashoeva celebration will begin with a Mega Kids’ Program with Rabbi Levi Goldstein and featuring Mitzvah Boulevard.
Thousands of guests have joined the Crown Heights community for Tishrei in this Hakhel year, creating the largest Simchas Beis Hashoeva in years.
The annual Simchas Beis Hashoeva celebration which takes place in the streets of Crown Heights is expected to be bigger than ever this year.
Longtime organizer Rabbi Yisroel Shemtov, who has been arranging and funding the celebration for over 40 years, has once again ensured a nightly celebration over Chol Hamoed, featuring the biggest stars in Jewish music.
Simchas Beis Hashoeva draws tens of thousands of Jews of all walks of life to Crown Heights. Due to the overflow of the many guests who came to celebrate Hakhel, Simchas Beis Hashoeva will be expanding to the Crown Street intersection of Kingston Avenue, organizers said.
“This allows for more visibility of the stage, and more space for dancing,” they said.
Simchas Beis Hashoeva events were very precious to the Rebbe. The Rebbe encouraged the Chassidim to celebrate each night, and increase the Simcha. Exciting plans for Simchas Beis Hashoeva during this Hakhel year include an exciting children’s program and a full band.