July 19, 2006
More than 500 schoolchildren who are attending Chabad-Lubavitch institutions, and their teachers, took part in a special prayer service at the Kotel, The Western Wall, Wednesday dedicated to the safety of Israeli Defense Force soldiers and the endangered citizens of northern Israel.

Rabbi Naftali Hacohen Rot, one of the event's organizers, said Chabad's rabbinical court in Israel assembled shortly after events in Israel's northern environs deteriorated in the wake of Hizbullah's first attacks last week. The court reached the decision that something had to be done.

"When the Rebbe [Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory] was alive, he always emphasized the power of children's prayers," said Rot. “We tried to follow the same directives the Rebbe gave in his lifetime during times of Israeli crisis.

There is great power in the prayers of children being pure and honest "There is great power in the prayers of children being pure and honest,” he stated. “There is no ill intention in their hearts or evil thoughts in their minds. Therefore, their prayers can penetrate the gates of heaven and reach G‑d. The Midrash tells us about Mordechai, who assembled 24,000 children for Torah lessons after hearing about Haman's vicious scheme."

Pointing to historical precedent, Rot explained that the Rebbe called for special prayers to be offered by children in Israel’s previous wars and crises, such as the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the Gulf War 15 years ago, when Israel was targeted in Iraq Scud missile attacks.

“Our intention was for every child to pray for one fighting soldier,” Rot continued.

The children arrived from different places: Kfar Chabad, Rehovot, Lod, Beitar, even from Netanya, a coastal city north of Tel Aviv that has been placed on alert by Israeli authorities worried that some Hizbullah-fired rockets could reach its population.

“Even though making the trip to Jerusalem was expensive, the principals of the schools didn't hesitate, as they all understood the importance of this mission,” said Rot.

Haim Bar Sela, an 11-year-old boy from the Ramot section of Jerusalem, said he and his classmates were excited when their teacher told them about the special prayers at the Kotel.

"Saying the prayers together with other kids made me feel stronger" "It was an opportunity for our prayers to help the soldiers who fight for us,” he said. “Our feeling at the time of prayer was that it is within our power to save am yisrael (the people of Israel) if we pray hard enough.”

David Avraham, from the West Bank settlement of Dolev, said being at the Kotel felt different than praying in a synagogue, because of the holiness of the place.

The children recited verses from the book of Psalms and ended the service by praying the afternoon prayers.

Many of the children said they have relatives in the north, such as Safed, Haifa and the Golan Heights. For them, the prayers were personal.

"I have a family in Safed who decided to stay despite of the situation,” said Mendy of Jerusalem, who did not give his last name. “They even opened the schools for the children. Their intention is to show the Arabs that their spirit can't be broken.”

Mordechai Frishman said he also has relatives in Safed. They saw a Katyusha rocket fall in the road near them.

Bar Sela said relatives from Haifa, which has borne the brunt of attacks in the last couple of days, came to stay with his family for a while.

“I see how difficult the whole situation is for them," he said. "Saying the prayers together with other kids made me feel stronger, as if in my prayer I can bring salvation to our people.”