President Reuven Rivlin called on all Israelis and Jews across the globe on Sunday to light an additional memorial candle on Yom Kippur in memory of those who died due to the coronavirus.“The coronavirus pandemic and its victims have caused me to think about those who have lost their lives, about the invisible angel of death which does its terrible work of taking lives in isolated emergency rooms, without families there to part from them with a last touch, holding hands,” stroking faces, Rivlin said in a statement. “To those dear ones, over a thousand victims, I decided to dedicate a prayer and to light a candle in their memory.”The president then said a modified version of the Yizkor prayer, which is said to remember those who have died and is recited several times a year, including on Yom Kippur."May God remember, and may the People of Israel remember the souls of those Israelis who have lost their lives this year because of the coronavirus. May we remember those pioneers and founders, Holocaust survivors, veteran immigrants, fighters and creators, students of Torah and worshipers of the Lord, Jews and Arabs, old and young," he said.“They were all loved, all, known, all had names and faces," the president said. "Fathers and sons, grandmothers and grandfathers, friends and acquaintances, neighbors and colleagues. An inseparable part of the fabric of our lives. May we be forgiven for the sin of weakness and inability, for not doing enough, for not managing to save them. Because of that, lives were lost.
"Our Father, our King, prevent the spread of the disease and give our leaders the understanding and the strength to lead us to peace, and to guide us to peace. And lead us, Lord, to better days, to life, happiness and peace. May it be Your will, King of the universe, that health, prosperity, peace and unity will reign in our borders. May the souls of our brothers and sisters, the victims of the pandemic, be bound in the bond of life, and may we say Amen.”Rivlin was not alone in using Yizkor to remember those who died from the coronavirus. At 12:00 p.m. EST (7:00 p.m. Israel time), Chabad will hold what they are calling the “world’s largest pre-Yom Kippur Yizkor broadcast,” in which it will honor the memory of 1,200 COVID-19 victims. The president's remarks come ahead of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which is the holiest day of the year in Judaism and the culmination of the Ten Days of Repentance, when Jews in communities all over the world ask both God and one another for forgiveness. The day is also characterized by its 25-hour fast and for its very long prayer services. Many have expressed concern over prayer gatherings on Yom Kippur, due to the possibility of a further spreading and spike in coronavirus cases, following a spike that was attributed to prayer gatherings on Rosh Hashanah.On Saturday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called upon Israelis not to go to synagogues for Sunday night’s Yom Kippur holiday in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus.“As the prime minister of Israel, who goes to synagogue to pray every Yom Kippur, I am asking you citizens of Israel not to go to synagogue this year,” he said in a video he released. “Pray outside and protect yourselves.”Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman and Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.