It's another holiday in Israel – but this is the 'biggie'…
Yom Kippur is Hebrew for “The Day of Atonement”, the day when, in Old Testament times, the Jewish High Priest would go in before God in His Tabernacle, and then the Temple – and make atonement for the sins of the Jewish nation.
It began at sunset today here in Israel. All is quite outside, as essentially 75% of the State's population observes this Jewish holiday.
The observance of this day is spoken about in the Bible; Leviticus 16:29-31 and 23:27-32.
For Jews, it is the holiest day of the year. Even secular non-observant Jews heed this day's hollowed call.
Indeed right now, the streets are largely deserted and everything is closed. Quite a contrast to last night where there where tons of people heading to the Western Wall and practicing ritual to have their sins forgiven.
Yom Kippur is also the day on which, according to Jewish tradition, peoples fates for the coming year are sealed.
There are Synagogue services where the main focus is on penitential prayer. This goes on for most of the day.
Also included in the afternoon are special scriptural readings – most notably, the Book of Jonah.
Memorial prayers are also included for the deceased. These are generally said four times a year, and are recited again on Yom Kippur.
Since the day is a day of introspection, and one completely separate from the normal course of daily life, the physical aspects of life are put aside while one is supposed to concentrate on their spiritual concerns.
To underscore this, the day is marked by a full fast. Jews will not wear anything made of leather, the ladies will not use cosmetics, there is no bathing or smoking allowed either.
It will all come to a close with nightfall on Saturday when the shofar (or ram's horn) will be sounded once to mark the end of the observance of Yom Kippur.
Middle East Correspondent