Yesterday's prayer at the Western Wall was a very special, unforgetable experience.
The prayers started on time at 6:00. Surprise! Hello, am I in Israel? After Minchah, the special prayers started. There were special booklets available containing the special prayers to be said, one of which I held in my hand. After the fact it turns out that some of the prayers said were not in the booklet, and some of the prayers in the booklet were not said. The plaza is full of people, but not packed tight like sardines.
Different people rabbis led the prayers at different points in time. The reknowned cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot was particularly impressive with his piercing tenor voice. When the crowd chanted the 13 midot together with the sounding of trumpets and ram's horns, I felt like my entire body was electified. Another memorable point was when Rabbi Ovadyah Yosef blessed the entire crowd.
During the prayers I could see that the entire plaza was full. What I did not know is that all of the streets and alleyways leading to the Kotel were also packed with people that were prevented by the police from going any further. Unlike a previous prayer rally, this time my promptness payed off. After Maariv, it took me perhaps an hour just to get out of the Old City. The crowd was well behaved, and as far as I know nobody got trampled.
This was an impressive event, reminiscent of the 1999 prayer/protest against Israel's Supreme Court. But in my mind, the location of yesterday's prayer made yesterday's event more special. It gave us all a taste of what aliyah laregel will be like, speedily and in our days, Amen.