JERUSALEM (Feb. 27)
President Chaim Herzog and Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir led worshipers in a special prayer service Wednesday combining thanks for sparing Israel from the Persian Gulf war and prayers for the safety of the allied forces fighting Iraq.
U.S. Ambassador William Brown headed a contingent of the foreign diplomatic corps attending the service at the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem. They joined in the reading of psalms.
The occasion was the Fast of Esther, the day before Purim, recalling the decree of death that had been made for the Jews in ancient Persia by their oppressor, Haman.
The Fast of Esther also commemorates the fast Queen Esther both undertook personally and requested of the Jews, to pray that King Ahasuerus, her husband, would not punish her with death for visiting him without being summoned. She was going to him to plead for her people.
Wednesday’s service was conducted by Israel’s Ashkenazic chief rabbi, Avraham Shapira, and the cantor of the Great Synagogue, Naftali Hershtik.