Amazing Prayer Rally for Pollard at Ma'araht HaMachpela
Justice4JP Release - October 11, 2005
"This was it! This was THE EVENT that we will all point to in years to come and say 'I was there!' If you missed it, you missed history in the making!"
Ma'araht HaMachpela in Hebron, where the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their wives, Sarah, Rifkah and Leah are buried, was thronged last night by worshippers, who came from all over the country, for a massive prayer rally for Jonathan Pollard and selichot prayers.
The Ma'arah as well as the outside plaza was equipped with huge video screens to enable the thousands upon thousands of worshippers to see, hear and participate in prayer with illustrious rabbis and chazanim.
There was standing room only inside the Ma'arah. Participants overflowed all of the prayer halls, including the huge Yitzhak Hall (which is normally closed to Jewish worshippers.) Despite the crush of bodies, the close quarters and the relentless heat (no air conditioning or fans), the prayers were so intense that the entire atmosphere seemed to be electrically charged.
The prayer rally began at 11 PM with an opening presentation by HaRav Mordecai Eliyahu, the Rishon LeTzion and former Chief Rabbi of Israel. HaRav Eliyahu spoke of the historic significance of Ma'araht HaMachpela -the burial place of the forefathers and mothers of Judaism - and he detailed how every aspect of Jewish tradition is linked in a specific way to each of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. He explained that we come to the Ma'arah in order to enlist the merit and intervention of the holy souls of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs as we make our appeals to the True Judge Above.
HaRav Eliyahu went on to speak about a dear Jew, Jonathan Pollard, who has done so much for Am Yisrael, and who is imprisoned in the United States for safeguarding the security of Israel. He spoke of the significance of praying for the release of Jonathan Pollard at the Ma'arah and of enlisting 'zechut avot' (the merit of our ancestors) on Pollard's behalf.
The Rav also spoke with warmth and affection of his many trips to the US to visit with Jonathan Pollard, and he blessed Pollard for a speedy release, and all good things, to which the enormous crowd responded by thundering, "Amain!"
The Rav then pointed out the special prayer sheets for Pollard that were being distributed and called upon everyone to pray for Jonathan Pollard's swift release and redemption. He also pointed out that Esther Pollard, Jonathan's wife, is currently in Israel (and in attendance at the prayer rally). He praised Esther's devotion to her husband and her efforts on his behalf, and he blessed her to receive her husband, swiftly, here in Eretz Yisrael. Again, a booming "Amain!" echoed throughout the halls of the Ma'arah!
As HaRav Eliyahu was concluding his remarks, he paused to acknowledge the arrival of HaRav Yona Metzger. Metzger is the current Chief Rabbi of Israel and the crowds in every hall of the Maarah rose respectfully to greet him. HaRav Eliyahu concluded with his blessings for Jonathan and for Am Yisrael, and invited everyone to prayer. He then handed the microphone over to Rabbi Hillel Horowitz, the Rav of Hebron.
Rav Horowitz spoke with warmth and praise for Jonathan Pollard and then he led the mighty throng in saying some of the special prayers that had been prepared for the occasion. The intensity of the prayers and the devotion of the worshippers was so overwhelming, it was almost palpable.
At various points, others were given the honor of saying or leading the prayers for Pollard. HaRav Yona Metzger was called upon to conclude the prayers by reading the special prayer for Pollard composed by HaRav Mordecai Eliyahu. Rav Metzger delivered the prayer with such warmth and compassion that it was impossible not to be moved by his words. Again, the crowd's thunderous final "Amain!" bounced off the walls of the Ma'arah and echoed throughout the halls.
As the special prayers for Pollard were concluding, HaRav Hillel Horowitz honored Pollard one more time. He took the microphone from Rav Metzger and spontaneously burst out singing: "V'shavu baneem! V'shavu baneem! V'shavu baneem l'gvulum!" ("And your children shall return to their Land!") This is the Biblical promise that G-d made to our Matriarch, Rachel Immenu, to console her as she weeps endless tears for her exiled children.
The crowd immediately joined HaRav Horowitz in this spontaneous tribute to Pollard, singing the refrain over and over again, with both joy and devotion: "V'shavu baneem! V'shavu baneem! V'shavu baneem l'gvulum!"
The song was as much a blessing for Pollard, as it was a tribute to him. It conveyed the worshippers' fervent prayer and belief that the promise G-d made to Rachel Imenu will be fulfilled in Jonathan Pollard, and he will be returned home. (Amain!) It was an emotional and beautiful conclusion to the special prayers for Pollard.
The Pollard prayer rally set the tone for the selichot prayers which followed afterwards. The atmosphere remained electric and the enormous crowd retained its cohesiveness in spite of its massive size and diversity. Shofars sounded and trumpets blared throughout the prayers - music and prayers mingling in a cosmic mix which opened the heart and touched the soul of all who were fortunate enough to be in attendance.
A prominent participant told Justice4JP: "This was it! This was THE EVENT that we will all point to in years to come and say 'I was there!' If you missed it, you missed history in the making!"
To which, Justice4JP simply responds: "Amain!"
See Also: Pollard Prayers and PDF Files Page