It's time to begin preparing for Yom Kippur fast

Advice for the millions of people who plan to fast during the holiest day of the year.

People pray ahead of Yom Kippur on the roof of a seminary overlooking the Western Wall, in Jerusalem’s Old City in 2012. (photo credit: REUTERS)
People pray ahead of Yom Kippur on the roof of a seminary overlooking the Western Wall, in Jerusalem’s Old City in 2012.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
With millions of Israelis planning to fast on Yom Kippur, from Friday at dusk to Saturday night, medical professionals recommend that they begin preparations now.
Mark Margulies, director of the nutrition and diet unit at Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba, said preparations for fasting begin two or three days before; he recommends drinking about 10 to 12 cups of unsweetened drink a day, preferably cool water.
Those who suffer from chronic conditions should ask their doctors/ rabbis now whether they are permitted to fast and, if so, the proper way to do it. Some patients are forbidden, while others are instructed to drink water at regular intervals.
Prof. Asher Bashiri, head of obstetrics and gynecology at Soroka, recommends that pregnant women consult with a gynecologist for appropriate instructions and instructions for fasting and afterwards. As a rule, a healthy pregnant woman without complications in pregnancy can fast, he said, but if she feels ill, she must drink immediately.
If there is no improvement, she must stop fasting, eat and contact a doctor, he said.
Those who are chronic coffee, tea and cola drinkers already should be cutting down the amount of caffeine they imbibe so as not to suffer headaches.
Beginning the morning before the fast, avoid drinking sweetened beverages and salted soups that cause thirst. Small meals should be eaten often and, at every meal, it is advisable to eat complex carbohydrates, potatoes and pasta with a portion of protein such as egg, cheese, fish and meat in addition to vegetables.
Foods that produce gas such as legumes, cabbage, cauliflower and carbonated beverages should be avoided.
For the last meal on Friday afternoon before the fast, avoid drinking alcoholic beverages and eating salty, spicy, fatty or fried foods. To prevent a heavy, stuffed feeling, fatigue and pressure in the stomach, don’t overeat during the prefast meal. A recommended menu includes complex carbohydrates; proteins such as fish, poultry, turkey, meat and vegetarian tofu and eggs; cooked vegetables of any kind; beneficial oils such as canola, olive, avocado; and tehina or hummus added to salad or as a separate dish. Drink only water or green tea.
Care also should be taken after Yom Kippur when Margulies says it is important not to overdo the amount of food eaten immediately after to avoid unpleasant abdominal discomfort.
He recommends drinking a lukewarm sweet drink like tea or juice and then eating cake or a few cookies or crackers. Only after about an hour later should you eat something similar to the prefast meal.
Meanwhile, Magen David Adom is boosting its teams of professionals and volunteers as it gears up for coping with illness and injury during Yom Kippur when, every year, thousands of all ages require its services.
Given that the use of wheeled objects from electric bikes to skateboards have become more common and dangerous in recent years, MDA urges parents to supervise children using near-empty streets and says they should always have suitable helmets and knee and elbow guards.
Each year, the High Holy Days season is characterized by a shortage in blood donations. In order for MDA’s blood services to be able to provide blood for transfusions to hospitals, the organization is calling for blood donations all types, especially type O and RH negative. Information about blood donation stations can be found at
Separately, regarding another Yom Kippur ritual, to avoid causing pain to chickens who often are kept in cramped cages with little water and to avoid infection with salmonella, it is advisable to use money for charity in the kapparot ceremony and not swing poultry over the heads of people to symbolically “atone” for sins.