MDA’s Safety Guidelines for the Yom Kippur Fast

How to treat dehydration? How to check if an elderly man is feeling well during the fast? What to eat before and after the fast?

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Western Wall prayers
Western Wall prayers
Flash 90

Every year, Magen David Adom (MDA) teams respond to over 2,000 emergencies during Yom Kippur. Among these emergencies, hundreds are a result of bicycle accidents, of both riders and pedestrians. This is due to the fact that non-observant Israelis take advantage of the lack of cars, trucks and buses on highways to ride bicycles and other unmotorized vehicles on them instead.

Hundreds of other emergencies deal with people who faint as a result of fasting. In order to provide instant, professional emergency response to any call received at MDA’s 101 dispatch center during Yom Kippur, MDA is preparing enhanced teams and putting many more on standby

First Responders are spread throughout Israel's cities, geared with MDA First Aid equipment. In synagogues, MDA First Responders will carry MDA First Aid kits that include defibrillators in order to provide medical treatment to worshiperrs who feel unwell. Additionally, MDA’s two helicopters will be on high alert to save lives in remote areas of Northern and Southern Israel.

In addition to MDA enhancing its teams for Yom Kippur, MDA would like to share its full guide for a safe fast with the public:

Pre-Fast Meal:

1. In order for the fast to go by easily, especially for children fasting for the first time, be sure to hydrate prior to fasting. Drink at least two liters of water and avoid drinks that include caffeine. Additionally, avoid drinking soft drinks as they induce thirst.
2. Avoid foods that are high in sodium as they absorb liquid and induce thirst.
3. For children fasting for the first time, it is even more important to stay hydrated and remain in shaded areas while outdoors.
4. During the pre-fast meal, combine the following food groups: complex carbs, protein and vegetable (fiber), in order to feel fuller longer.

Calling MDA in Synagogues:

The MDA mobile app, “My MDA” enables the public to call MDA’s dispatch center with a click. The call will be received by the EMTs and paramedics in the center within 4 seconds, as the app shows them the patient’s location. This way, the call will be shorter, MDA’s response times faster, and worshipers won’t have to act in ways prohibited on the holy day.

The sick, elderly and pregnant women:

MDA recommends that the sick, the elderly and pregnant women consult with a doctor prior to fasting, with an emphasis on patients suffering from kidney dysfunction, heart disease, atherosclerosis, oncology patients, as well as those who’ve undergone kidney, heart or liver transplants. The aforementioned patients may experience severe symptoms due to fasting and not taking their medication. This also applies for people with diabetes, high blood pressure, epilepsy, dysfunctional thyroid, and kidney and liver diseases.

Diabetics who fast should receive clear instructions from their doctors regarding the specific amount of insulin that should be injected following the pre-fast meal and during the fast.

Kidney Dysfunction:

Due to the lack of drinking during the fast, the body may create kidney stones, a common problem that can arise from fasting. The first symptoms include headache, blurred vision and in later stages, even difficulty urinating and dysfunction of other bodily systems. In order to mitigate the risks of kidney dysfunction, remain in cool, shaded areas.


Despite the weather forecast indicating comfortable weather, avoid food and beverages that may pose a risk of dehydration. Pay special attention to infants, children and elderly. In any case a patient feels an overall weakness and shows signs of dehydration (weakness, dizziness, nausea and vomiting) call MDA immediately at 101 or through the “My MDA” mobile app, and adhere to the instructions of the EMTs and paramedics at the center until the arrival of MDA teams to the scene.

Women Undergoing Fertility Treatments:

During Yom Kippur, MDA paramedics will inject women undergoing fertility treatments with their hormone shots. Based on their doctor’s instructions as to specific hours, the women will be able to arrive at a nearby MDA station in order to receive the shots. *MDA paramedics will only inject hormone shots to women who have already received at least one shot.*

Riding Bicycles:

Yom Kippur is the single day of the year on which roads are free of vehicles and become filled with bicycle, e-bikes, skateboards, rollerblades and scooters. Therefore, there is significant danger facing children who may be hurt as a result of unsafe riding. Every year, MDA treats hundreds of children and teenagers during Yom Kippur. This is five times higher than an average day.

MDA’s Guidelines for Safe Riding:

1. Wear a helmet, knee and elbow protectors.
2. Avoid riding at night. If you do ride at night, use a flashlight, wear bright clothing and ensure there are light reflectors on your bike.
3. Supervise infants and children to make sure they won't be hit by bikes. Also watch them while playing with their own, age-appropriate bikes and toy-cars.
4. In case of a severe injury, do not move the patient, immediately call MDA at 101 and adhere to the instructions of the EMTs and paramedics at the dispatch center.
5. Children and teenagers planning to ride long distances are recommended to download the MDA mobile app so the EMTs and paramedics at the dispatch center will be immediately exposed to their location. This way, ambulances, if needed, will be dispatched to the scene faster.
6. MDA is asking parents to watch their children and make sure they allow ambulances to navigate freely on their way to emergencies and hospitals.

Breaking the Fast:

It is recommended one break the fast with a light meal. Begin with drinking a luke-warm beverage with a piece of simple cake or two pieces of bread and cheese. A light meal can be eaten about an hour later..

MDA calls worshipers arriving in synagogues with children and infants to pay extra attention and supervise them. Every year MDA is called to treat children and infants hurt in synagogue environs while playing in dangerous places.

Warning and Statement:

The aforementioned guidelines in no way, shape or form, provide anyone with the authority to treat or diagnose anybody beyond their First Aid knowledge. These guidelines do not aim to replace professional rescue efforts. In any emergency, it is recommended to seek professional medical advice. It is important to enroll in an MDA First Aid and CPR course.

MDA Director General, Eli Bin said : “On the holiest day of the Jewish uear on which millions of Jews fast and visit synagogues, MDA will be on high alert in order to assist anyone in need. MDA teams will be scattered with hundreds of ambulances, mobile intensive care units and MDA Medi-Cycles throughout Israel, prepared to respond to any scenario. MDA First Responders who are fasting and praying in synagogues will be geared with special MDA First Aid and CPR kits so they can too, provide medical treatment and save lives. I wish everyone Gmar Chatima Tova.”

For more information please contact spokeswoman to the foreign press, Bar Zukerman: +972-524448998, +972-506916260,

Magen David Adom (MDA) is Israel’s national ambulance, blood-services, and disaster-relief organization, serves as emergency medical first responders for the state’s more than 8 million people.

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