Israel Marks Day Of Atonement
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Life came to a standstill at sundown Friday as millions of Israelis marked Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, by fasting and with prayers seeking forgiveness for their sins.
Streets were deserted, stores shuttered, public transportation halted and radio and television broadcasts stopped as worshipers filled the country’s 10,000 synagogues.
As on other Jewish holidays, security forces were on high alert. The army closed roads from the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip to prevent Palestinians from traveling to Israel between 4 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. Saturday.
Some secular Israelis took advantage of unseasonably high temperatures in the 90s for a bicycle ride or stroll along the country’s Mediterranean beaches.
The Hilton Hotel in Tel Aviv stopped serving warm meals in its dining rooms Friday evening, but offered cold snacks through room service, said spokeswoman Barbara Kay.
She said the hotel was 70 percent full, with many guests staying for the duration of the Jewish High Holidays which began Sept. 23 with the New Year, or Rosh Hashana. The holidays end Oct. 15 with Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, which commemorates the fall havest and desert wandering of Jews during the Exodus.
Yom Kippur began at sundown Friday and ends at sundown Saturday. An aide to President Chaim Herzog said the president would fast and pray at a synagogue in his hometown of Herzliya north of Tel Aviv.
Earlier Friday, thousands of people flocked to cemeteries to say prayers for the dead. People who lost relatives in the 1973 Yom Kippur war visited battle sites in the Golan Heights and elsewhere to lay wreaths at stone monuments.
Ultra-Orthodox Jews held the so-called Kaparot ceremony, waving above their heads and symbolically transferring their sins to a fowl.