Join Sivan's newsletter!

Get updates & news via Email

One among a hundred thousand stars

סליחה בכותך

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin ([email protected])

"Shalom Sivan,

This week you posted a video of Selichot (penitential prayers) at the Kotel (Western Wall). It showed how the chazan (prayer leader) prayed passionately three times for peace among us and how the crowd responded with a thunderous 'Amen' after each entreaty. My name is Maor and I am the daughter of this chazan, whose name is Yehuda Naftali.

Most of your readers do not know his name, but many are familiar with his voice: For more than 30 years my father has been the chazan for Selichot services at the Kotel. When the month of Elul arrives, he receives a blessing from my mother and the entire family as he gets out of bed and heads for the Kotel to lead a huge throng of penitents in prayer.

The Selichot service at the Kotel is not only about the prayers. It's a celebration of national unity as people from all sectors of the nation gather together. When I am standing there, I see people who are so different from each other as they chant the inspiring prayers with my father, pecisely in the manner that he holds dear.

The most wonderful moment, from my perspective, occurs when the prayers end. This is the moment when we realize that the chazan, although an emissary, is just like everyone else.

When the prayers are over, my father comes down from his balcony perch on high and leaves the Kotel plaza as just another Jew among tens of thousands. No one recognizes him and no one knows that he is the one who led the just-concluded prayers opposite God. There are no real stars among those who pray or, perhaps, opposite God, all of us are stars."


We use cookies to ensure the best experience for you. Please, accept the usage of cookies.