A joint project of Tzohar, the Ba’yachad bridge-building organization, the
Israel Association for Community Centers and the Ministry for Public Diplomacy
and Diaspora Affairs, will see more than 240 “accessible” prayer services held
across the country on Yom Kippur.
The motivation behind what is now an
annual campaign is to create a welcoming experience for people who might
otherwise be disinclined to attend synagogue on the holiest day of the Jewish
Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement in Hebrew, is traditionally
devoted to continuous prayer and fasting to bring about divine clemency for
wayward behavior during the year past.
Although many people who do not
attend synagogue during the year do go to services on Yom Kippur, the project
organizers say that there are still large numbers of people who do not know of a
synagogue where they will feel comfortable praying on this day.
approximately 240 prayer services that have been arranged span the country from
Eilat in the South to communities in the Golan Heights in the North, and also
include major cities such as Tel Aviv, Petah Tikva, Jerusalem and
Special services will also be held for immigrants from the former
Soviet Union and Ethiopia in keeping with their particular
According to Tzohar chairman Rabbi David Stav the goal is to
help everyone feel welcome at some service on Yom Kippur.
“The desire for
a connection with Judaism is something which is growing and we are experiencing
this at many different junctures,” Stav said.
“Our goal is to give to all
Jews a feeling of belonging to Jewish tradition and to connect them to the
heritage of our forefathers,” he added.
Tzohar says that it expects as
many as 50,000 people to attend the different services up and down the country,
which will be organized and run by around 700 religious volunteers. Kippot, Yom
Kippur prayer books and explanation sheets for the prayers will be provided at
The locations of the different services can be found on the
organization’s Facebook page.
According to a comprehensive study of
religious beliefs and practices of Israeli Jews conducted by the Israel
Democracy Institute published in January, 68 percent of Jews in the state fast
on Yom Kippur.
Approximately 85 percent of respondents said it was
“important to celebrate Jewish festivals in the traditional manner.”