Israel's 'House Divided' Unites on Yom Kippur

Jews in Israel may be divided on many things, but they all come together on Yom Kippur. Arutz Sheva looks at what's happening this year.

Chana Ya'ar ,

Israel news photo: Flash 90

Divided though Israel's population may be during the rest of the year, on Yom Kippur, Jews in the Holy Land are united as One.

This year on the Jewish Day of Atonement, considered the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, tens of thousands of secular Israelis will join in prayer services throughout Israel as part of the Tzohar Praying Together on Yom Kippur Initiative.

More than two thirds of the country's Jews observe the sanctity of the High Holy Day, but many secular Israelis stay home, since they do not belong to a synagogue.

As part of its mission to bridge the gap between the secular and religious populations, Tzohar is organizing close to 200 free explanatory Yom Kippur services in kibbutz communities, moshavs and cultural centers across Israel, both Sephardic and Ashkenazi.

“Our goal is to help secular Israelis feel less alienated when it comes to religious practice and to show them that there are many ways to embrace religion and become spiritually involved with one's Judaism,” said Rabbi David Stav, chairman of Tzohar.

“We know... this segment of Israeli society often has a burning desire to demonstrate their love for Jewish tradition and we strongly believe that this effort will help them feel closer to their identity as proud Jews.”

Members of the Bnei Akiva movement will be reaching out as well.

The Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidic movement, known for its outreach to Jews of all affiliations, is also spreading the word, inviting Jews throughout the country to join in prayer with their brethren.

“Come and enjoy meaningful Yom Kippur services,” cajoled Rabbi Yisroel Goldberg an Internet invitation from his new Chabad center at Jerusalem's Windmill of Rechavia. “If you do not usually go to Shul, you will be inspired by the harmonious songs, bi-lingual Machzor and by fascinating insights and anecdotes. There is no cost for a seat.”

Even in the lowest place on earth, spiritual highs can be reached, notes Chabad-Lubavitch emissary Rabbi Shimon Elharar with a smile.

Elharar told Arutz Sheva in a telephone conversation Thursday morning that Yom Kippur services will be held for the entire hotel strip at the Dead Sea resort area in a special joint initiative of the Crowne Plaza, the Daniel and Isrotel hotels, along with the Religious Council of the Jordan Valley.

The services, led by Elharar at the Crowne Plaza, will begin with Kol Nidre on Friday at sunset, and continuing straight through the holiday until the final service, Ne'ila, on Saturday evening.