JERUSALEM (JTA) — Some 68,000 Israelis are expected this year to eschew Yom Kippur services in a traditional synagogue setting and gather at community centers for free, public holiday services.
“Praying Together on Yom Kippur” services will take place in 350 venues throughout the country, including cultural centers, school buildings and libraries. There will be 18 venues in Tel Aviv alone.
The annual program is organized by the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization, in partnership with Yachad Ohr Torah Stone. It is in its 20th year.
Participants are provided with a special Yom Kippur prayer book and detailed handout explaining the rituals and the meaning of the prayers that take place on the Day of Atonement. The service will include explanations, discussion and the shofar blowing at the conclusion of the holiday.
“Yom Kippur is a wonderful opportunity to take a break and disconnect from all the noise around us,” said Rabbi David Stav, founder of Tzohar Rabbinical Organization.
“Yom Kippur is a special and holy day among the people of Israel, but there are Israelis who feel less comfortable in observing it in the synagogue for various reasons. On the other hand, research indicates that most Israelis seek to connect with their heritage and dedicate a place for tradition in their daily lives. Therefore, we offer the public the opportunity to pray in beautiful and comfortable locations with songs, experience and meaning. Judaism is considered the treasure of the nation of Israel; So, too, Yom Kippur and the rest of the holidays belong to everyone,” Rabbi Kenneth Brander, president and Rosh HaYeshiva of Ohr Torah Stone Institutions, said in a statement.