Thousands attend Western Wall prayer service for the hostages
Jews pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. (Photo: Oren Ben Hakoon)

The show of solidarity was broadcast live worldwide.

JNS Staff Report
March 21, 2024

Thousands of Jews converged on the Western Wall on Thursday for a prayer service in honor of the captives still being held by Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

The show of solidarity was broadcast live worldwide from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The proceedings included speeches from family members of the hostages, in addition to the recitation of Psalms and a special prayer for the return of the captives. It concluded with Jews from around the world reciting the Shema prayer at the holiest site where they can pray.

“‘Shema Yisrael, Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echad‘ [‘Hear O’ Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One’]”—these words are known to every Jew almost from birth. These are the words that accompany us all in moments of joy and often in times of hardship and distress,” according to a statement by the Hostage and Missing Families Forum, which represents the relatives of the captives.

The event took place on the Fast of Esther, a dawn-to-nightfall fast held before the Jewish holiday of Purim, which commemorates the events that occurred during the Jewish exile in Shushan, Persia. While the fast is generally celebrated on the day before Purim, when the holiday falls on a Sunday, the fast is moved from Shabbat to the preceding Thursday.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog participated in the event, saying: “I will also join the entire Jewish people in the Fast of Esther and in reciting ‘Shema Yisrael’ for the return of all the hostages, for the recovery of the wounded and for the safety of our soldiers and heroes, and for unity between the people of Israel in Israel and throughout the whole world.”

Thousands came out on Jan. 10 for a prayer service at the Western Wall dedicated to the hostages and the well-being of the IDF soldiers fighting in the Gaza Strip.

The event included family members of some of the 134 hostages still being held in Gaza, those who have been wounded in the war and soldiers battling terrorists in the Palestinian enclave.

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