The holiest day in the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, was set to commence at sunset on Tuesday. The holy day will see Israel come to a near complete pause.
Many Israelis observe a 25-hour fast and attend prayer services on this day. Children take to the streets by foot and bicycle to enjoy the near complete absence of cars on streets and highways. The atmosphere is calm, nearly silent.
Thousands of Jewish worshippers visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City on Monday night for the culmination of Selichot penitential prayers. The services were led by Israel’s two chief rabbis—Sephardi Chief Rabbi is Yitzhak Yosef and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau — and other prominent figures, and included the ritual of hatarat nedarim (“the annulment of vows”), in which people can walk back pledges they made during the past year.
Some 3,000 worshipers arrived at the tomb of Mishnaic sage Rabbi Meir in Tiberias on Monday.
Meanwhile, in view of the volatile security situation, the Israel Defense Forces announced that the crossing points into Israel from the Gaza Strip, and Judea and Samaria, would be closed starting midnight on Tuesday. Despite this measure, passage will be permitted on humanitarian grounds and for medical situations.
Israelis will also mark the 45th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War on Monday with various memorial services at military cemeteries.
Emergency services have also stepped up preparations ahead of the holiday and its long fast. Authorities pleaded with the public not to interfere with emergency vehicles, as this could mean delay of life-saving treatment.