Despite the intermittently heavy rains, close to 10,000 people have showed up for the traditional Sukkot holiday march in Jerusalem.They set out from two different points outside the capital - the Kastel near Mevaseret Zion, and the Sataf brook not far from Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital - as well as from the Armon HaNetziv neighborhood in southern Jerusalem. All three spears will meet in Sacher Park near the Knesset, from where they will set out in the afternoon towards Liberty Bell Park.
Very many downtown roads have been or will be closed in the city, adding pressure to the expected traditional holiday traffic jams. The list of closed streets reads like a Who's Who of Jewish history and culture, and includes Rabbi Akiva, Jabotinsky, Ramban (Nachmanides), Hillel, Shammai, Nathan Strauss, Ben-Yehuda, Ben-Tzvi, Betzalel, Shmuel HaNagid, Eliezer Mapu, Mendeleh Mocher Seforim, HaMatmid, Histadrut, Kakal (Jewish National Fund), Gaza, Shalom Aleichem, Achad HaAm, Keren HaYesod, HaAri, Saadiah Gaon, Benjamin MiTudela, and more.
Among the marchers are or will be some 3,000 tourists from abroad who have arrived to show solidarity with Israel. Labor unions will also take part, including from Israel Aircraft Industries, government offices, banks, Israel Electric Company, the Postal Authority, and more.
A relatively new arrangement is being instituted in Jerusalem, whereby motorists can park their cars for the day and receive bus tickets for travel around the city for only 15 shekels. The parking lots are located at or near the Supreme Court and downtown Safra Square. Free parking and bus rides begin at the Teddy Stadium and Ammunition Hill parking lots.
Thousands more people are expected to descend on the capital for the various holiday activities, including the Hak'hel reenactment in the Old City at 4:30 PM. The event is sponsored by the Temple Institute and the Jewish Quarter Reconstruction and Development Company. It will feature public Torah readings by leading rabbis, the sounding of Holy Temple-type silver trumpets, a short film describing the Sukkkot water pouring festival, and the unveiling of the just-completed Kiyor HaNechoshet (brass laver), which the Temple Institute hopes will be used in the Holy Temple when it is rebuilt.
Hundreds Visit Temple Mount
An unprecedented 400 people were allowed onto the Temple Mount this morning, though only in separate groups, and the police allowed them - for the first time in memory - to read Biblical verses aloud. Another group is scheduled to visit Judaism's holiest site for 12:30 PM. All the visitors followed the precautions prescribed by those rabbis who allow ascent to the Temple Mount, including immersing in a mikveh (ritual bath), prior to and during their visit.
Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute explained the significance of the unveiling of the laver at this point in time: "The kiyor is the first thing used by the Priests in the Temple every morning, when they sanctify their hands and feet before beginning their daily service. Essentially, they are washing their hands of the misconceptions of G-d and of life that they had yesterday, and are beginning the new day with a new slate. The laver is thus all about looking forward. We ourselves must do the same thing; in this generation, we have to cleanse ourselves of mistaken conceptions regarding the Temple, such as that we need to stand by passively as it is brought down from Heaven. We must be proactive, constantly working, praying and thinking towards the rebuilding of the Temple and its restoration to its proper place as the central pillar of Jewish society."