Solemn Atmosphere Pervades Israel; Diplomats Attend Synagogue Services

The traditional Yom Kippur Eve solemnity pervaded Israel today. The solemn atmosphere enveloped cities and towns, villages and settlements, defense installations and frontier outposts, as all of Israel prepared to observe Yom Kippur. Unlike the days preceding Rosh Hashanah, roads and highways were virtually deserted. The vast majority of Israelis stayed home, preparing themselves for devotions, prayers and contemplation.

In all of Israel’s major cities, synagogues and special places of worship were prepared for capacity attendance, especially for this evening’s Kol Nidrei service and for the “Neilah”–closing–prayers at sundown tomorrow. Many tourists and Jews from all over the world who had come to Israel especially for the High Holy Days were expected to attend the services.

Synagogues here and at Tel Aviv–where most foreign embassies maintain their diplomatic missions–have reserved seats at Yom Kippur services for members of the diplomatic corps, many of whom expressed their desire to show their respect for Israel and for the Jewish religion by attending services in the Jewish houses of worship. Cemeteries throughout Israel were crowded with relatives of deceased crowding to the burial places of their beloved, reciting the traditional “El Maleh Rachmim” memorial chants at the gravesides.

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