Yom Kippur 2020 Begins Under Covid-19 Lockdown in Israel

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  • Bloomberg QuickTake: Now published this video item, entitled “Yom Kippur 2020 Begins Under Covid-19 Lockdown in Israel” – below is their description.

    The solemn Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, which annually sees Israeli life grind to a halt, began on Sunday in Israel already under a sweeping coronavirus lockdown. Every year, businesses shut down, roads empty out and even radio and TV stations go silent as the faithful fast for 25 hours and hold intensive prayers of atonement on the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. The more secular-minded can be seen riding bikes or even picnicking on deserted highways. The holiday begins at sundown on Sunday. But this year all non-essential businesses have already been forced to close, and Israelis have been ordered to stay within 1,000 meters (yards) of their homes throughout the High Holidays, which began last week with the Jewish New Year and continue to mid-October. It’s the second nationwide Covid-19 lockdown since the pandemic began, an attempt to contain one of the most severe outbreaks in the world. Israel, with a population of just 9 million, is reporting more than 7,000 new cases a day, raising fears its hospitals could be overwhelmed. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged that mistakes have been made by decision makers. But he urged people to avoid going into synagogues on Yom Kippur and to pray outdoors. Israel’s politically influential ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, which has suffered from high rates of infection, is opposed to restrictions on prayers, viewing it as a form of discrimination by mostly secular authorities, especially while demonstrations continue. Netanyahu has also called for an end for public demonstrations against him, saying they are a public health risk. Thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets in recent months, calling on Netanyahu to resign while he is on trial for corruption charges and because of what they say is a failed response to the coronavirus crisis. In Israel, the holiday is also associated with the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, when Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Yom Kippur. Families would ordinarily visit the gravesites of fallen relatives — another tradition cancelled because of the virus restrictions.

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