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Largest Crowd in Modern Israel History Dances ‘hakafoth’ at Jaffa Gate

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The largest crowd in Jerusalem’s modern history, estimated at more than 100,000 persons, assembled this weekend opposite the walls of Old Jerusalem, at the Jaffa Gate, to join in the traditional Hakafoth, the ceremonial round observed at the service at the end of Sukkoth. The ceremony was led by President Zalman Shazar.

All methods of counting people known to Israeli police failed and officials could only say that the assembly must have exceeded 100,000. The previous record was set on November 30, 1947, when 30,000 Jews assembled in the Jewish Agency courtyard to celebrate the United Nations partition of Palestine recommendation.

President Shazar, carrying a torah scroll, danced to Hassidic melodies played by a band, his head moving ecstatically to and from to the rhythm of the melodies. Dancing with him in the traditional circle were Chief Rabbis Issar Yehuda Unterman and Yitzhak Nissim, Interior Minister Moshe Shapiro. Religious Affairs Minister Zorah Warhaftig, Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek, British-Jewish philanthropist Sir Isaac Wolfson, and many other dignitaries.

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