Saturday, October 1, 2011

Travelling to Israel over Yom Kippur

There is always a trick travelling to some religious countries over holidays. Israel is one of those countries...
In 2011 Yom Kippur is on 7th and 8th of October. This holiday has flexible date and on 2012 it starts at sunset September 25, 2012.

Yom Kippur dates

Sat, October 8, 2011
Wed, September 26, 2012
Sat, September 14, 2013
Sat, October 4, 2014
Wed, September 23, 2015

!!ALL Jews in Israel observe Yom Kippur!!

Yom Kippur is the most important Jewish holiday that being observed not only by Orthodox Jews but secular jews as well. Usually Jews have 2-3 prayers a day, but on Yom Kippur there are five prayer services required.

What is Yom Kippur

Yom means "day" in Hebrew and Kippur comes from a root that means "to cover or hide"; a secondary meaning is "to obliterate (sin)" and hence "to expiate".

What to expect travelling to Israel on Yom Kippur

People who observe Yom Kippur have to follow this rules:

No eating and drinking
No wearing of leather shoes
No bathing or washing
No anointing oneself with perfumes or lotions
No marital relations (no sex)
No any vehicles that have motors (Bicycles, roller-skates are allowed. I guess horses too?)
No TV, radio, Internet

These rules starts day before Yom Kippur at sunset. This day called Erev Yom Kippur.
Even it all starts at about 5pm, everything starts to shut down at 1pm.

What Yom Kippur means for tourists in Israel

This is very important to remember that ALL Jews observe this day. What that means is that you will not be able to buy anything (including tickets, food and drinks), eat, drive, travel (except walking or by bicycle etc).
AIRPORT shuts down on Yom Kippur too!

Driving in Israel during Yum Kippur

Even if you've rented a car in Israel, it is highly NOT recommended driving during Yom Kippur.
There is no such legal law that prohibits driving, but here is why you don't want to drive in Israel during Yom Kippur:
- Because nobody can use motor vehicles (and can't do pretty much anything), everybody go out on the streets and freely walk everywhere including highways
- Kids can throw stones in your car, which will not only damage your car (think you'll be involved with insurance for most of the trip), but also can get you killed or injured
- The only vehicles allowed in Israel are emergency vehicles (I guess Christians and Muslims work shifts on Yom Kippur?)

What to do in Israel on Yom Kippur

Unless you observe the holiday - it's hard to find anything to do in Israel at this time. The best choice is to stay by the sea on the beach or on the Arab territory (in Jerusalem or go to neighboring Jordan or Egypt).
And don't forget to buy food and drinks in advance!! Only some hotels (such as on Dead Sea) offer meals during Yom Kippur.

If you still up to travelling to Israel over Yom Kippur - just follow advice and wait until it's over to continue your Israel trip!

Please don't hesitate to share your comments and ask questions!

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