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Tens of Thousands of Jewish Worshippers Hold Sukkot Priestly Blessing at Western Wall

Holding prayer shawls above their heads and covering their faces, priests chant 'the Lord blesses you and keeps you'

Jewish worshippers hold the Four Species, used in rituals for the holiday of Sukkot, as they pray before a priestly blessing at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City, October 16, 2019.
\ AMIR COHEN/ REUTERS

Thousands of Jews gathered at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Wednesday to attend a special 'Priestly Blessing' prayer during the holiday of Sukkot.

The Western Wall's plaza was packed with some 40,000 worshippers, including thousands of members of the Jewish priestly caste, said a statement by the site's spokesperson office.

Holding prayer shawls above their heads and covering their faces, the priests, known as "Kohanim" in Hebrew, began chanting the blessing, which begins with: "The Lord blesses you and keeps you".

Kohanim are thought to be descended from the line of the biblical Aaron, who are often referred to as Jewish priests because of their prominent role in Temple worship.

The ceremony is held during the Jewish holidays of Passover and Sukkot.

Considered one of Judaism's holiest site, the Western Wall is a remnant of the compound of the Second Jewish Temple built by King Herod the Great, which was destroyed in 70 AD.

Rabbi Avraham Levy who arrived in Jerusalem to attend the Priestly Blessing, told Reuters that in ancient times the blessing used to take place in the temple, "But here today we have like the feeling of the real thing like we used to have in Beit Hamikdash, soon to come."