Jews around the world recite special sun blessing

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Massada synagogue
Image: Daniel Ventura.

On Wednesday morning, April 8, Jews gathered around the world to recite the sacred and rare blessing of the sun (birkat hachama in Hebrew), recited only once every 28 years.

The blessing is intended to celebrate the positioning of the sun, stars, and planets in the exact formation in which they were created. Although modern science seems to have disproved such a claim, the blessing is still recited and maintains much symbolic value in the Jewish faith.

The sun or the shape of the sun must be seen in order to recite the "BirkatHachamah" after sunrise but no later than noon. Areas which forecast cloudy or rainy weather were hoping for a glimpse of the sun. A contingency plan would be to raise above the clouds aboard an aircraft to sight the sun and then recite the prayer.

This year also marks the first time in 2,000 years that the prayer was recited at Massada’s ancient synagogue.