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October 8, 2019 12:18 pm

Tourists in Israel Experience ‘Spiritual’ Atmosphere of Yom Kippur

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

A child rides his hoverboard on an empty road during the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur in Jerusalem, Sept. 30, 2017. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad.

Tens of thousands of tourists will spend the Yom Kippur holiday in Israel, including many Jews but also some non-Jewish travelers.

Israeli news site Mako quoted Tina Kikbadyza, 28, a Russian tourist, saying of her visit to Tel Aviv, “This is my second time in the city and this time I decided that I would like to be here on Yom Kippur to feel the atmosphere of this holy day, to understand the meaning, what’s going on, and how people are behaving.”

Referring to the fact that Israel essentially shuts down on Yom Kippur, with businesses shuttered, no public transportation, and traffic all but non-existent, she added, “On the one hand it intrigues me, on the other it is challenging and fortunate that it is only one day and not a week. If it was a week it is not certain I would survive.”

Asked what she will do during the holiday, Tina replied, “We will walk a lot, maybe we will also go to a synagogue to have the spiritual experience.”

“I’m excited for this day,” she added. “It’s fun to me that everything is closed, that the restaurants are closed, the cafes, the shops, the malls. I’ve never been in a place like this.”

It also provides her an opportunity to “learn something about Israeli culture,” she said.

Yaakov Sudri, a director at a major hotel chain in Israel, said that non-Jewish tourists often “marvel at the guests who are fasting” and “understand the meaning and sanctity of this day.”

Amit Bahat of Isrotel said that his hotel chain “respects all religions and their guests, along with maintaining the uniqueness of Yom Kippur’s importance to the State of Israel.”

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