It must have been a confusing sight for tourists. Some 50,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews crammed onto Water Street in lower Manhattan on Sunday afternoon, showing their support for their Haredi brethren in Israel. This week, the Knesset will vote on a bill to make conscription into the Israel Defense Forces mandatory for Haredi men. Sunday’s “Great Prayer Assembly” was as much about lending them emotional support as it was about protesting the draft bill ahead of the Knesset vote.
The ultra-Orthodox demonstrators came from Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan and New Jersey, and joined together in prayer, tears and shouts. After a little over an hour, they dispersed, and lower Manhattan went back to normal.
Photos by Shulamit Seidler-Feller