Thousands of Jewish worshipers participated in prayer services at Jerusalem’s Western Wall last night and during the day today, ahead of ‘Yom Kippur’, the Hebrew name for the ‘Day of Atonement’. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who attended the event, said that the police were prepared with reinforcements to protect the streets leading to Jerusalem’s Ancient City during the Jewish holiest day of the year. Minister Erdan also noted that the many thousands who came to the Western Wall despite the terrible attack earlier in the week that occurred in the eastern part of the city, in which two Israelis were murdered, was definitive proof of the strength and fortitude of Israel’s people.
Meanwhile, Jews conducted their ancient rituals ahead of Yom Kippur, including waving chickens over their heads before slaughtering them or emptying their pockets into a river, traditions orthodox Jews believe will cleanse themselves from sins. The waving of a chicken over their heads is called ‘Kapparot’, in which orthodox Jews believe the act would pass their sins onto the animal.
“Religious Jews do it as an atonement for their sins throughout the year. There are different customs how to do it – with money, with chickens. Here they do it with chickens and then they slaughter the chickens afterwards,” said Hanoch Shwenger, Resident of Jerusalem.
In Tel Aviv, some orthodox Jews performed a ceremony called ‘Tashlich’, where people empty their pockets into a running source of water, symbolically casting their sins out to the sea.
“We are doing an old custom of throwing our sins to the water. You know, Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the Jewish religion, so we come here to throw our sins to the water,” said Aaron Ma’ayan, Resident of Tel Aviv.
The IDF imposed a general closure on the West Bank and closed the crossings to the Gaza Strip in advance of Yom Kippur. The closure will end at midnight, Wednesday, at the end of the day of atonement. Passage will only be permitted in humanitarian, medical, and exceptional cases.