As Israeli traffic continue to rise at a shocking rate, one of Israel’s chief rabbis has called on the country to seek spiritual help in cutting down the number of deaths on the road.
Chief Sephardi Rabbi Eliyahu Baksho-Doron called this week for mass recitations of the traveler’s prayer to help reduce traffic fatalities.
His announcement came as organizations for traffic safety urged the government to declare a state of national emergency on the roads.
More than 25 people were killed and 70 injured in road accidents in the past week. Since the beginning of the year, 404 people have died on the roads, an average of about 60 people per month.
According to figures recently released by the Central Bureau of Statistics, someone is injured in a traffic accident in Israel every 14.5 minutes.
The bureau also provided some additional, sobering statistics: Every two hours, a pedestrian is hit by a car; every two hours, a child is hurt in a traffic accident; every 16 hours, a person dies in a traffic accident.
Over longer periods of time, these statistics create a particularly troubling picture.
The death toll on Israeli roads nearly equals the number of dead from all of Israel’s wars: more than 18,000.
Earlier this year, the Masorti, or Conservative, movement in Israel issued a driver’s prayer:
“Our God and God of our ancestors… Help me to drive with care, to keep a proper distance…to yield the right of way; with awareness, to stop in time,” read the prayer, which was part of the movement’s attempt to compile a new prayer book that would better reflect the realities of daily life in Israel.
Israeli police officials, nothing that many accidents involve youths who have been drinking, recently began a widespread campaign to discourage drinking and driving.