Mass prayer services held in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv for hostages’ release

Tens of thousands gather at the Western Wall to prayer for the release of Israeli captives in Gaza and IDF soldiers during fast ahead of the Purim holiday.

By World Israel News Staff

Tens of thousands of Jews gathered in the Western Wall Plaza in the Old City of Jerusalem Thursday, to mark the end of Ta’anit Esther, the traditional fast before the Purim festival, and to pray for the safety of Israeli soldiers and the safe release of Israeli captives in the Gaza Strip.

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, chief rabbi of the Western Wall Plaza, lead attendees in the recitation of Psalms prior to the prayer service.

Worshippers then recited the “Shema Yisrael” (“Hear, O Israel”) prayer, in what was billed as the largest mass recital of the prayer on record.

The event included families of hostages held in the Gaza Strip, with Yigal Sarusi, whose son, 27-year-old Almog Sarusi, is being held captive in Gaza led a prayer for the captives.

“Let us think together about the hostages, about our soldiers and the unity of the State of Israel, to open the gates of heaven,” Sarusi said.

Haim Jelin, a resident of Kibbutz Be’eri and survivor of the October 7th invasion also took part in the event, leading part of the recital of Psalms.

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Parallel gatherings of Jews around the world were held while the Western Wall event was livestreamed online, hosted by Aish Chief Media and Marketing Officer Jamie Geller.

A smaller gathering was held Thursday in Tel Aviv, organized by the Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism.

Dozens took part in the event which was held in Hostages Square and also included prayers on behalf of the Israeli captives in the Gaza Strip.

Yarden Gonen, the sister of Romi Gonen, one of the hostages in Gaza, was among those in attendance.