On Yom Kippur: Only in Israel

There are some unique aspects to Yom Kippur as it is marked in the Jewish State.

Tags: Jewish World
Nissan Ratzlav-Katz ,

A scene from Israel (not on Yom Kippur)
A scene from Israel (not on Yom Kippur)
Israel News Photo: (file)

The majority of the Jews of Israel attended prayers at the nation's synagogues during the Yom Kippur holiday, which
Their "mission" was to serve as Yom Kippur prayer leaders for soldiers on active duty.
lasted from Sunday evening through Monday night. As every year, there are some unique aspects to Yom Kippur as it is marked in the Jewish State.

One hundred and eighty soldier-scholars currently enrolled in various Hesder yeshivas, which combine military service and advanced yeshiva studies, fanned out to IDF bases from Mt. Hermon in the north to Eilat in the south. Their "mission" was to serve as Yom Kippur prayer leaders for soldiers on active duty at the nation's military facilities.

In addition, in recent years the Hesder yeshiva students have been invited to assist with the organization of Yom Kippur services at many secular kibbutzim and agricultural communities. Such efforts are a joint project organized between the kibbutz leadership and the Hesder yeshivas. In some cases, the older communities seeking the assistance of the yeshiva students built their first synagogue only in recent years.

Special public Yom Kippur prayer gatherings sponsored by the Tzohar rabbinical organization were held in community centers, schools and other public buildings in cities and towns of all sizes throughout Israel. These unique "prayer and study gatherings" were geared towards those Israelis who are unfamiliar with, or uncomfortable in, standard synagogue services. Services included some explanations and participants were provided with a simple-to-follow Yom Kippur prayer book (Machzor), as well as detailed handouts that explained the rituals, the meaning of the prayers, and instructions regarding when to stand or bow. More than 170 Tzohar gatherings were held this year.

More than 71% of Israeli Jews between the ages of 18 and 35 said they planned to fast on Yom Kippur, as the Biblical holiday
There are also no private vehicles in the streets of... the major cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
requires. With most Jews in Israel fasting, the Magen David Adom emergency medical service was on high alert for related troubles. They were kept busy with 50 cases of fainting due to the fast. Sixteen people required resuscitation. A happier task for the MDA teams was to transport 102 women who were giving birth to various hospitals over the course of the holiday. Five women gave birth at home with the help of MDA medics.

A day of fasting, prayer and introspection, on Yom Kippur the Jewish State is essentially closed down, with no public transportation or electronic broadcasts, and practically no open stores or services. For 25 hours there are also no private vehicles on the streets of Jewish communities, religious and secular, including the major cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

A side effect of the lack of motorized traffic on Yom Kippur is a flood of children, and some adults, on bicycles on most of the nation's streets. Although a popular pastime on the holy day, it comes at the dismay of many rabbis as riding a bicycle on Yom Kippur is generally as forbidden by religious strictures as using a motor vehicle.

Over Yom Kippur, 162 children suffered injuries related to riding bikes, skateboards or rollerblades. Two adults who were riding without helmets suffered serious injury to their heads when they fell from bicycles they were riding in the Tel Aviv area.

Following the end of the Yom Kippur holiday, preparations are already underway for Sukkot (Festival of Booths) which begins on Friday night. Many religious Jews use the hours following the end of Yom Kippur to begin building their sukkah (temporary dwelling for use during Sukkot), according to the tradition of going directly from one mitzvah (commandment) to the next.