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Tens of Thousands Attend Jerusalem Annual Passover Priestly Blessing, Focus on Hostages, Families

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JERUSALEM, Israel – Despite war and rumors of war, tens of thousands of Jewish people came to the Western Wall during the intermediary days of Passover to pray and receive an annual blessing.

Unsurprisingly, this year's focus was the hostages and their families.

More than 30,000 people came to take part in the Birkat Hacohenim, which in Hebrew means "Priestly Blessing"" this Passover, and cried out for the return of the Hamas-held hostages and peace for the State of Israel.

The attendees came from around the world to bless and be blessed. This year, that included families of the hostages.

Sigi Cohen's son Eliya was wounded and taken hostage into Gaza in the Hamas-led massacre and kidnappings of October 7th.

"We came to the Kotel to the priestly blessing, because Eliya is a cohen (from the priestly line) and he couldn't come to participate in the priestly blessing, so we were invited here by the Rabbi of the Western Wall, to come to hear the priestly blessing and to pass on the power of the blessing that was here today to Eliya and all the hostages that are in Gaza 0:41 that they'll be strengthened by this blessing until Eliya, with the help of God will return to us, Cohen told CBN News.

In the Book of Numbers, God gives Moses and Aaron these words to bless the children of Israel:

"The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you, the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace."

While The Aaronic Benediction or Blessing is a daily part of Jewish prayers, this public tradition at the Wall happens twice a year – during Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles) and Passover. 

Jewish men who are believed to be of the priestly line come to bless the people of Israel. The last collective priestly blessing at the Western Wall was during Sukkot last fall, just days before the October 7th Hamas attack.

Sigi Cohen felt it was important to come and intercede for her son.

"I think the prayers that we are praying, they are drawing all the hostages to return to us, and that's the most substantial thing, because only the Holy One, only our Father that is in Heaven, can return them to us," Cohen stated. "There is no one else but Him. He is the only one that can bring them home. He's the only all-powerful one who can bring them back."

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In addition to the priestly blessing, there were special prayers for the captives in Gaza, the more than 100,000 Israelis displaced from their homes due to attacks, the wounded, the families of those who have died, the IDF soldiers, and the security of the State of Israel.

Cohen shared, "We are praying that in this month of Nissan (on the Jewish calendar), that is the month of redemption, when the people of Israel were redeemed, and with the help of God, they will be redeemed again. We pray to God that He will redeem all the hostages, (and) the daughters and sons will return to their homes healthy and whole, with the help of God."

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz of the Western Wall thanked God for standing with Israel during the missile attack from Iran earlier in April. He said God performed miracles for Israel when He brought them out of Egypt, and so, Israel must be thankful. He also asked that God remove His anger from Israel.

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About The Author

Julie Stahl

Julie Stahl is a correspondent for CBN News in the Middle East. A Hebrew speaker, she has been covering news in Israel fulltime for more than 20 years. Julie’s life as a journalist has been intertwined with CBN – first as a graduate student in Journalism; then as a journalist with Middle East Television (METV) when it was owned by CBN from 1989-91; and now with the Middle East Bureau of CBN News in Jerusalem since 2009. As a correspondent for CBN News, Julie has covered Israel’s wars with Gaza, rocket attacks on Israeli communities, stories on the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and