70,000 attend Priestly Blessing at Western Wall

JERUSALEM (JWN)—An estimated 70,000 worshipers jammed the Western Wall area Sunday morning for the semi-annual Priestly Blessing, pronounced by kohanim, descendants of the Temple’s priestly caste.

A descendant of the priestly caste pronounces the High Priest Aharon's blessing at the Western Wall. (Flash 90)

The blessing is given twice a year: during the intermediate days of the Succot (Tabernacles) festival and the intermediate days of Pessah (Passover).

Among the thousands attending this Succot were Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

The modern tradition of the mass blessing began in the early 1970s, inspired by the teaching that the Messiah will come when 300 priests (kohanim) together recite the blessing given by the High Priest Aharon.

The holidays are peak times for visits to the Western Wall. More than a million pilgrims attended prayers at the Wall in the days before Yom Kippur.