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      40,000 Secular Jews in Tzohar Yom Kippur Minyans

      250 prayer minyans were held by 750 Tzohar volunteers throughout Israel on the High Holiday.
      By Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 9/15/2013, 8:33 PM

      A synagogue (file)
      A synagogue (file)
      Israel news photo: Flash 90

      About 250 Yom Kippur prayer quorums, or minyans, were held throughout Israel by the Tzohar rabbis' organization, for the benefit of secular Jews. More than 750 Tzohar volunteers took part in the minyans, which are a part of Tzohar's mission, to make Jewish religious ceremonies and services available to all Israelis.

      Tzohar organized services in a wide variety of locations, including in cities like Tel Aviv, Modi'in Eilat, a large number of kibbutz communities, and towns in Judea and Samaria and northern and southern Israel.

      Two new groups that joined the Tzohar family this year were an Ethiopian congregation in Gedera in southern Israel, and a group at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv. Organization volunteers were present to help run services, and volunteers also traveled to kibbutz communities for residents there, in some cases for the first time.

      Dozens of residents of the Gush Etzion town of Elazar spent Yom Kippur at Kibbutz Ga'ash in central Israel. The Tzohar organization organized the prayers, and visitors from Elazar will also conducted a special lecture on music in Judaism. After the fast, residents and visitors participated in a special musical event at the kibbutz.

      A record number of Tzohar volunteers came from the community of Hashmonaim this year. About 120 youths from the small community, not far from Modiin, volunteered in Tzohar's minyans.

      Some of the minyans were held in kibbutzim, communities that were founded many decades ago on principles of socialist collectivism, and which tended to look askance at religion until recently.

      In one of the kibbutzim in the north, Tzohar said, members of the kibbutz would not allow the ceremony to take place in an official kibbutz structure. However, three members of the kibbutz insisted on holding the minyan and out up an air conditioned tent in the yard of a private house, which served as a makeshift synagogue.