Well – what else is there to talk about other than today – Yom Kippur – Hebrew for “The Day of Atonement”. It began at sunset yesterday and concludes at nightfall today.
It's the holiest day of the year for Jews the world over – but particularly significant here in Israel. Its observance is mandated by Leviticus 16:29-31 and 23:27-32. Yom Kippur is the day on which, according to modern Jewish tradition, their fates for the coming year are sealed.
How do Jews spend the day? Many will be found in synagogue services that center around the reading of penitential prayers. These will continue for most of the day and include special scriptural readings such as the Book of Jonah in the afternoon.
Memorial prayers for the deceased are also recited on Yom Kippur. And then at nightfall, the shofar – ram's horn – is sounded once to mark the end of Yom Kippur.
Since Yom Kippur is a day of introspection, it is a day completely separate from the normal course of daily life. The physical aspects of life are put aside while concentrate on spiritual concerns.
Thus the day is marked by a full fast. Also the wearing of leather, the use of cosmetics, bathing and marital relations are also forbidden. There is no Israeli radio or television broadcasts either!
Now I was out and about a little today. Yom Kippur is a full public holiday in Israel and almost all establishments are closed. On an average 70% of the country participates in the ritual of the day. But I did see a bunch of in-line skaters zipping around the streets – as well as bicyclists enjoying the car-free roads.
We'll see you on tomorrows show!