The Jewish People are preparing to observe the Yom Kippur Day of Atonement, which begins at sundown this evening.
By Erin Viner
Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, marked by a 25-hour fast prohibiting consumption of any food or liquids. Extensive prayers at synagogues begins on the eve of the Holy Day, with recitation of the 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 spate of Arab terror attacks. Jerusalem District Police Commander Doron Turgeman ordered the deployment of thousands of additional police officers, Border Police officers and volunteers in and around the capital based on intelligence that terrorist groups intend to carry out further attacks. Two Israeli teenagers were stabbed by a Palestinian assailant near the city’s Central Bus Station on Monday.
The defense establishment is also maintaining a high level of alert amid the ongoing intense manhunt for 2 Palestinian security inmates who escaped from Israel’s Gilboa Prison 6 September. 4 others who participated in the jail break were recaptured on September 10 and 11.
A general closure has been imposed on all Palestinian territories, including the West Bank and the crossings to the Gaza Strip, set to begin today at 3 PM and remain in effect until midnight tomorrow. Entry is permitted only for humanitarian, medical or exceptional circumstances.