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Bennett’s team sets up shul at DC hotel amid unexpected Shabbat stay

Embassy, Chabad help arrange Torah scroll, ark, prayer books for delegation as PM’s return to Israel delayed until after sabbath

An improvised synagogue at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his entourage to pray over Shabbat on August 28, 2021. (Israeli Embassy in Washington)
An improvised synagogue at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his entourage to pray over Shabbat on August 28, 2021. (Israeli Embassy in Washington)

On his first visit to Washington this week as prime minister, Naftali Bennett had never intended to stay over the weekend. After his planned meeting with US President Joe Biden on Thursday, Bennett was to swiftly board a plane for Israel.

But the tragic terror attack in Afghanistan forced a delay to the meeting, from Thursday to Friday, and the religious Israeli premier’s team quickly made arrangements for him to spend Shabbat at his hotel.

COVID-19 restrictions meant the premier and his staff could not leave the hotel to attend synagogue. However, a solution was found.

With some help from the Israeli Embassy and Chabad’s Washington DC representatives, one of the hotel’s rooms was converted into a makeshift shul, complete with a Torah scroll and ark.

Prayer books and yarmulkas were also provided to the team to enable all those who wish to attend.

The delegation and traveling press also shared a Shabbat dinner at the hotel.

The prime minister and his team will return to Israel after the Jewish Sabbath ends.

File: Prime Minister Naftali Bennett recites morning prayers at his hotel in Washington on August 25, 2021. (Avi Ohayon/GPO)

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