The annual commemoration of the Day of Atonement begins at sundown this evening.
By Erin Viner
It is marked wit a 25-hour fast, that prohibits consumption of any food or liquids. Extensive prayers at synagogues begins on the eve of the Holy Day, featuring recitation of the beloved Kol Nidre prayer.
During the 10 Days of Repentance that leads up to the occasion, worshippers repent and request absolution from others for any transgressions against them, so that when Yom Kippur arrives they will be sufficiently humbled to seek forgiveness from God.
The Book of Leviticus ascribes the atonement and subsequent purification and prayer as necessary for the inscription in the Book of Life, where both Jews and Christians believe God records the names of every person who is destined for Heaven and the World to Come.
Other customs observed by the Ultra-Orthodox community include the symbolic passing of sins to chickens while waving them into the air known as ‘Kapparot,’ as well as the emptying of pockets into a running source of water called ‘Tashlich’ to represent the casting of sin out to sea. These traditions have been held in place of sacrificial animal ceremonies once performed at the Biblical Temples in Jerusalem.
All Jewish-owned venues will be closed for the duration of Yom Kippur. The entire public generally observes a ‘no driving’ injunction observed by the religious community on every holiday (including each Sabbath), and most streets and thoroughfares remain empty. Young, secular Israelis are known to enjoy the riding of bicycles and other pedal-driven vehicles on the nation’s normally-packed roads.
While security is always heightened ahead of Israeli holidays, this year it has been further bolstered due to the recent surge of Arab terror attacks.
The defense establishment is maintaining a high level of alert, including the imposition of a general closure of all crossings by Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza into the country – with the exception of humanitarian, medical or exceptional circumstances. The order will be enforced from today at 3 PM and remain in effect until midnight tomorrow.