Imagine yourself in the middle of a bustling city. It’s hot, sunny and it’s 4 pm. There are people everywhere rushing about with a stern look on their faces. They are hurrying big time. They are rushing in and out of stores carrying heavy bags, stocking up frantically like there’s a deadline they need to meet. There is a deadline, a major one.

That’s pretty much the picture a few minutes before Yom Kippur starts in Israel, specifically in Tel Aviv. 

Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year for us Jews. Day of Atonement where forgiveness is asked for all the wrongs we’ve done to each other and to God. We also forgive others and God forgives us. It’s a day where the believers spend time praying in synagogues and fast from sundown for 25 hours. Where secular jews also take a break from the routine and stay home, relax, reflect, and spend time with family. 

In Israel, during Yom Kippur everything halts – public and private transportation, shops are closed, businesses do not operate, cultural centers close their doors, and restaurants are shut as well, as it is a day of fasting. 

In Tel Aviv, the liveliest city in Israel which has it all – all levels of believers and not believers, Yom Kippur is observed in many ways to host all types of people and traditions:

Observing in synagogues:

The custom is to go to synagogue and pray. All synagogues will have their doors open for everyone. These are especially friendly for visitors:

Ichud Shivat Zion

Ben Yehuda 86 | Central Tel Aviv | Modern Orthodox

The North Central Synagogue

Ben Yehuda 126 | Central Tel Aviv | Modern Orthodox

The Great Synagogue

Allenby 110 | Central Tel Aviv

Resting at home, alone or with friends:

Spend the day relaxing, sleeping or reflecting on the past year. Invite some friends for a low key get-together. You can serve food if nobody is fasting, but please be considerate and don’t make any serious meals which scent may be smelled by your neighbors or down the street.

Walk around:

The streets are empty!! Well, at least from cars and buses. They are now full of people and bike riders, an ongoing Israeli tradition during this holiday. Roam around and discover the city by foot or your set of non-motorized wheels. 

Head to the beach: 

The beach in Tel Aviv will be packed. Although this is a holiday, the beach is still there. People take advantage fo the warm weather and day off from work to enjoy it. But please pay attention – Lifeguards are not on duty on Yom Kippur.

The combination of both secular and religious communities in Tel Aviv allows this weaving of both traditional and modern Yom Kippur culture activities on the holiest day of the year. So, during your Israel summer internship, stock up on food and make plans with friends for 24 hours of a serene and spiritual day with spurts of urban adventures.


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