(Courtesy of Aish HaTorah) U.S. Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides joined tens of thousands of worshipers who came to the Western Wall Wednesday morning to attend the traditional “Birkat HaKohanim” Priestly Blessings and the hundreds who watched the ceremony from the Dan Family Aish World Center rooftop.
Because of Aish’s unique vantage point opposite the Western Wall, the Priestly Blessings on the first of the intermediate days of Sukkot have become an annual—and increasingly popular—gathering for the organization’s partners and supporters. This is the first time in two years that the biennial blessing ceremony was held without any travel or coronavirus restrictions, adding to the excitement and crowds of the day.
Aish CEO Rabbi Steven Burg presented Nides with a framed photograph of the Ambassador praying at the Western Wall, taken during his first visit to the Aish World Center just days after arriving in Israel as ambassador. Rabbi Burg told the ambassador, “Today’s service is all about prayer. In your difficult and stressful job, whenever things may seem tough, look at this picture and beseech the Almighty for guidance.”
Visibly touched by the moving ceremony and the personal gift, Ambassador Nides briefly addressed the crowd: “This is an exceptionally special place…I’m not particularly religious, but I come here because I think it’s really important. If you’re a secular Jew or religious Jew or any Jew in between, to come here and place your hand on that Wall and say a prayer is about as important as you can get.”