Israel Prepares for Yom Kippur in the Shadow of Coronavirus, Lockdown
i24 News – The Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur will commence in Israel Sunday evening under abnormal circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic and the strict lockdown currently implemented in the country.
During the 25-hour holiday, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, the State of Israel normally grinds to a halt, as Jews traditionally fast and pray, and refrain from using electricity. Driving too is viewed as a taboo despite it being permitted by law.
However, with the nationwide lockdown coming into effect on September 18 and a stricter one still imposed on Friday, the Jewish state has already ground somewhat to a prolonged halt.
While hundreds of thousands of Jews annually flock to synagogues throughout the country, lockdown rules cap houses of worship in capsules between 10 to 30 individuals — depending on the size of the structure.
Moreover, worshipers are prohibited from visiting synagogues more than one kilometer (just over half a mile) from their home as the government looks to encourage outdoor praying, while adhering to social distancing.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a video prior to the holiday, urging citizens to avoid entering synagogues and instead pray at home or outside.
“I ask you, like the rabbis do, as the prime minister of Israel who prays each Yom Kippur in synagogue — don’t go this year to the synagogues. Pray outside and safeguard your lives.”
A report released Sunday by the Israel Defense Forces’s Military Intelligence Directorate stated that “the number of new patients per day in Israel is the highest in the world in relation to the population,” outlet N12 reported.
The period of fasting and praying is set to start at 5:53 pm in Jerusalem and 6:09 pm in Tel Aviv. It will end on Monday at 7:03 pm and 7:05 pm respectively.