Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children in Eretz Yisrael are expected to participate in a mass atzeres tefillah in Yerushalayim on Sunday, the first day of Rosh Chodesh Adar II, against the anti-religious decrees being enacted by Israel’s government. The last few days have been characterized by feverish activity on the one hand and a heightened sense of unity and solidarity on the other, as Klal Yisrael comes together to be mekadesh Shem Shamayim as per the instructions of Gedolei Yisrael.
On Thursday, a letter was publicized by Harav Shmuel Halevi Wosner, shlita, the Shevet Halevi, calling for participation in the atzeres. Likewise, the Badatz of the Eidah Hachareidis also published a call to attend.
The planning committee and the police department have been working out the details, including security, traffic arrangements and general order. The police announced yesterday that they are expecting at least 600,000 people to attend, a number that evokes maamad Har Sinai, and the renewed acceptance of the Torah in the days of Mordechai and Esther.
According to the call of the Moetzes Gedolei and Chachmei HaTorah, simultaneous rallies will be held abroad. These rallies will emphasize the solidarity of the Yidden who live there with the Yidden who reside in Eretz Yisrael. Many also feel a personal connection, as they have children and grandchildren living and learning in Eretz Yisrael who will be directly affected by the decrees.
Rallies have been organized in London, Gateshead and Manchester at 2:00 p.m. local time. The London rally will take place in the Yesodei HaTorah courtyard.
In light of interest expressed by local and international media on the message the rally is trying to convey, the planning committee announced that a uniform message will be presented: “Zos haTorah lo sehei muchlefes — this Torah will not be changed!” The placards that thousands of participants will carry and which will be hung throughout the entire area will express this message. The message the rally is trying to convey is that the holy Torah is above all political, financial or material considerations.
Based on past experiences, organizers have expressed concern that the public transportation network will not be able to keep up with demand over such a short period of time, which could prevent people who wish to attend the atzeres from getting there.
Therefore, the public is being urged to travel to Yerushalayim as early as possible, either on public transportation, or on privately organized transportation, but not in private vehicles. Anyone with access to a train station is being urged to use the rail system. Smaller cities are organizing private transportation for their residents.
Many yeshivos are planning to come to Yerushalayim early Sunday morning, before davening. This way they will be able to avoid the traffic and spend the day learning before the atzeres begins.
The girls’ high schools will remain in session until a short time before the rally is scheduled to begin, and will then gather at the appointed time in an organized fashion.
The planning committee is making every effort to preserve order and decorum. They have warned that hostile elements may try to instigate provocations, and are pleading with the public to ignore them so as not to cause unpleasant confrontations that can mar the entire event.
Most businesses in the area will be closed for all or part of the day. Even government offices in Yerushalayim have announced that they will close early so their employees can get home before public transportation stops running.
On Shabbos, community Rabbanim and Roshei Yeshivah are expected to deliver drashos about the severity of these times and what is at stake, and will call on their communities and yeshivos to participate—men, women and children—in the atzeres Kiddush Hashem.