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Millions of Jews Worldwide to Pray for Forgiveness on Yom Kippur

Photo credit: the Western Wall Heritage Foundation

JERUSALEM, Israel - Millions of Jews around the world are preparing their hearts and minds for the holiest day on the Jewish calendar - Yom Kippur - or the Day of Atonement.

Yom Kippur begins on the evening of Tuesday, October 8 and will end Wednesday evening, October 9. Yom Kippur is a solemn day of prayer and fasting.

In Israel, the entire country stops for 25 hours as Jews go to synagogues with their families to ask God to forgive them and the entire Jewish people of their sins. The roads shut down and the highways go silent in observation of this holy day. Ben Gurion International Airport takes a daylong hiatus, along with television and radio.

While the country prays and fasts, police and paramedics will be on guard to respond to any emergency calls.

Yom Kippur is set to begin at 5:40 p.m. on Tuesday in Jerusalem and 5:55 p.m. in Tel Aviv. It will end on Wednesday at 6:51 p.m. and 6:53 p.m. respectively.

During this time, Jews pray the "Viddui", a prayer of repentance and a plea for forgiveness.  

More than 1.5 million people have flocked to the Western Wall in Jerusalem over the last month to prepare for Yom Kippur and the other Jewish holidays.

On Monday, more than 100,000 people went to the Western Wall plaza for a late-night Slichot Service. The slichot are Jewish penitential prayers and poems recited in the lead up to Yom Kippur.

"It has been a touching experience to see worshippers come here, at all hours of the day and night, joining the tens of thousands of strangers, together in a unifying prayer that can break all barriers - and there is nothing more Jewish than that. Yachad Shivtei Israel, all the tribes of Israel together - as possible only at the Western Wall," said Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, the Rabbi of the Western Wall.

Rev. David Pileggi, who serves as the Rector of Christ Church in Jerusalem, told CBN News that Christians have something to learn from Yom Kippur.

“Now we have a saying of Jesus, don’t we?  It says, if you bring your gift to the altar and your brother has something against you, leave your gift at the altar and go and be reconciled with your brother," said Pileggi.

“Jewish tradition says go and get your relationship right with your neighbor, with your brother, with your family member, forgive and then be reconciled and then on the day of atonement when you begin to fast and pray and to confess, then God will hear your prayer and forgive you as you have forgiven others.  The teaching of Jesus and it’s also something that’s part and parcel of Jewish tradition and here the two line up very nicely," he added.

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