Thousands flock to Western Wall for Priestly Blessing
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Thousands flock to Western Wall for Priestly Blessing

Heavy police presence in Jerusalem as Jews make pilgrimage to capital during Sukkot holiday

Thousands of Israelis flocked to the Western Wall in Jerusalem Wednesday for the traditional biannual Priestly Blessing.

The ceremony sees male descendants of the Kohanic priestly caste gathering to recite a benediction. It is performed daily by devout Jews at synagogues throughout Israel, while mass blessings at the Western Wall take place on the festivals of Passover and Sukkot.

The Western Wall is the closest spot to the Temple Mount where Jews can legally pray. Though they are allowed to visit the Mount, where two ancient Jewish temples stood, Jews are not permitted  to pray there according to the status quo in place for decades.

Jewish visits to the Mount, today the site of the Al Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock, often spark tensions, and the blessing ceremony took place amid tight security.

Police said that a large number of officers were deployed around the city on Thursday, in particular at “flashpoints,” in order to “keep order” and ensure “the safety and well-being of the public,” as well the ability of “various groups to exercise their right to freedom of religion and worship.”

Police arrested one Jewish teenager Sunday morning on suspicion that he had prostrated himself while going up to the Temple Mount.

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