For the first time in modern history, approximately 800 men from the tribe of Levi joined together on the stairs in front of the Hulda Gates in the Davidson Center adjacent to the southern wall of the Temple Mount to sing the three songs the Levites sang in the Temple. After about an hour and a half of practice, the event took place last Wednesday. It was hosted by the Old City Rehabilitation and Development Fund led by musical director Itzik Weiss and conductor Yotam Segel.
Levites (a Jewish male descended patrilineally from the Tribe of Levi) were chosen during the Exodus from Egypt by God to serve in the Tabernacle and, subsequently, the Temple. Some of the Levites in attendance wore special garb intended to be used in the Third Temple. Silver trumpets created for use in the Third Temple were also used in the performance.
The Levites sang three of the fifteen psalms that were traditionally sung on the steps inside the Temple including Psalm 121 and 126. The Levites were accompanied by musicians also from the tribe of Levi.
A song for ascents. I turn my eyes to the mountains; from where will my help come? My help comes from Hashem, maker of heaven and earth.
The event nearly did not take place. A few weeks before the prayer event was scheduled to take place, the Woman’s Lobby petitioned the organizers to cancel the event as it did not include women. The organizers maintained that the event was intended as a recreation of a Biblical ceremony that was performed by men in the Temple.
Daniel Shukron, the funds vice president, responded to allegations of exclusion of women in an interview with Good Morning Israel’. “We are simulating a historic event that actually took place, so why distort it? We asked the Levites to come and sing text from the original sources. There is no audience, no tickets, and no reason to protest. “