Preparations for Atzeres Tefillah in Full Swing


Feverish preparations are being made for the largest atzeres tefillah to be held since the establishment of the State, as decided by the Moatzos Gedolei and Chachmei HaTorah at their historic meeting this past Monday night. It will take place on Sunday at 4 p.m., Israel time and, simultaneously, rallies will be held in the United States and England, along with other locations.

As in the days of Mordechai and Esther, Gedolei Yisrael are calling on Klal Yisrael, and all those to whom Torah is dear to their hearts, to utilize the age-old strategy of “Lech k’noss es kol haYehudim” and, through this, to thwart the intentions of those who are harassing lomdei Torah.

Indeed, this Sunday, in the presence of hundreds of thousands from across the spectrum, in Eretz Yisrael and around the world, the declaration made by Harav Saadya Gaon will resound: “Ein umaseinu umah ela beTorasa — our nation is only a nation through its Torah.” The masses will daven to Hakadosh Baruch Hu that Klal Yisrael should be able to continue to live according to our heritage, and that those who have strayed should open their eyes and return to their Father in Heaven.

On Wednesday afternoon, the steering committee for the atzeres met at the UTJ offices in the Knesset for a planning session. The meeting was headed by Rabbi Chanoch Ziebert, Rabbi Menachem Shapiro and Rabbi Chaim Bitton, and was attended by members of all three factions. They discussed the mass transit operation as well as the program, which will include only Tehillim and Ohl Malchus Shamayim.

The dais for chazzanim and baalei tefillah will be located near Binyanei Ha’Uma. There will be no dais for Gedolei Yisrael; they will stand among the masses, in the city streets, similar to the way they did 15 years ago at the mass rally held against High Court decisions that contravened halachah.

As it stands now, Harav Baruch Mordechai Ezrachi, shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Ateret Yisrael, and Harav Reuven Elbaz, shlita, Rosh Yeshivat Ohr Hachaim, will be the baalei tefillah.

Because of the massive proportions of the event, it will be overseen by the national police, who will publish a map of the roads and streets leading to the area where it will take place. Beginning at noon on Sunday, no private cars will be allowed into Yerushalayim; anyone wishing to enter the city will have to do so via buses, which will park on the Begin Highway.

Naturally, heavy traffic is expected. The public is being asked to arrive early from other cities, to ease the bottleneck at the entrance to the city.

The actual atzeres will be held in the area from the entrance to the city until Yaffo and Sarei Yisrael Streets. There will be an area for women on Yaffo and Haturim Streets.

Since the announcement of the rally, there has been a remarkable display of unity: the batei din of the Rabbanim of Chabad have been instructed by the Mara d’Asra of Nachalas Har Chabad, Harav Yitzchak Yehudah Yaroslavsky, to attend the rally, including the yeshivah bachurim.

Likewise, the Rav of Tzefas, Harav Shmuel Eliyahu, one of the prominent Rabbanim in the National Religious sector, also declared his intentions to attend. “I will attend,” he said, “and I am calling on others to attend. It is impossible to allow the government to divide and conquer [the religious public]. I am familiar with names of MKs from Jewish Home who will vote against the law if it will harm the chareidi public and the Torah and yeshivos. I spoke to most of the members of the Jewish Home faction and they unequivocally informed [party chairman Naftali] Bennett that they will vote against the law if it harms the chareidim and the Torah world.” Other Rabbanim in the national religious sector also called on their followers to participate in the rally.