Nearly a thousand Jews at the Western Wall in Jerusalem prayed for a cure to combat the coronavirus outbreak that has killed 1,770 people.
Orthodox rabbis joined Jewish congregants, including dozens of Chinese citizens in Israel, as they gathered Sunday at Judaism's holiest site seeking divine intervention, as Chinese authorities report an uptick in cases linked to the COVID-19 virus, which was first detected late last year.
“Millions and millions of people are going through tremendous suffering in China and outside China,” Rabbi Avi Berman, executive director of the Israeli branch of the Orthodox Union, told The Jerusalem Post. “As Jews, we believe that God has the power to send healing. We are not doctors, but we can pray.”
Despite a downpour of rain, nearly a thousand attendees participated in the session organized by Rabbi Schmuel Eliyahu, president of the Rabbinical Community Association, in partnership with the Israeli branch of the U.S. Orthodox Union.
"The Western Wall is a payer site for Jews and non-Jews," Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, rabbi of the Western Wall, said. "We pray that China will overcome the [coronavirus] and that it will not spread in China or elsewhere around the world."
Facing the wall with a poster in Hebrew and Chinese reading, "The People of Israel pray for China," they recited prayers in Hebrew, and one in Mandarin, and sang and danced, in the session that ended with a blast of the shofar.
“There are many doctors and many physicians and many medical experts in the world trying to find a cure for this coronavirus. What we know how to do well is we know how to pray, we know how to talk to God,” Berman told those gathered.
“We’re going to pray that the doctors are going to be successful," he added. "Those that are looking for a cure are going to be successful."
Several Chinese officials attended the ceremony and expressed their gratitude in a statement.
“The Chinese Embassy in Israel would like to extend its sincere appreciation for the sympathy, support and solidarity expressed by the Jewish people," the embassy said. "We will never forget it."