240 ‘accessible’ services to be held on Yom Kippur

Many people don't know of a synagogue where they feel comfortable praying on Yom Kippur, say project organizers.

The Great Synagogue (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/ Ariel Horowitz )
The Great Synagogue
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/ Ariel Horowitz )
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 year.
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.
The 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 others.
Special services will also be held for immigrants from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia in keeping with their particular traditions.
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 services.
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.”
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Click for more JPost High Holy Day features