Yom Kippur is a day of reflection, prayer and community – not to mention not eating and drinking for 25 hours. In Israel, most Jews do fast and also do something special for the Day of Atonement, a national holiday, even if they don’t make it to synagogue, where services typically are very lengthy.

The holiest day of the Jewish calendar also requires a bit of preparation, such as the tashlich ceremony, shown below. Usually performed on  or shortly after Rosh Hashanah, tashlich is a purification ritual where one’s sins of the previous year are symbolically cast (in the form of bread crumbs) into natural flowing water.

Members of the Vishnitz Hassidic sect perform the 'tashlich' ceremony by the sea in Herzliya on September 24, 2012 (photo credit: Roni Schutzer/Flash90)

Members of the Vishnitz Hassidic sect perform the ‘tashlich’ ceremony by the sea in Herzliya on September 24, 2012 (photo credit: Roni Schutzer/Flash90)

Another famous sin-cleansing ritual performed by the devout ahead of Yom Kippur is kaparotwhere traditionally a chicken or sack of coins is swung over the head to remove the year’s burden. The chicken is then slaughtered and given to the needy, or the money donated to the poor.

Doing 'kaparot' in Meah Sharim, Jerusalem, on September 23, 2012 (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Doing ‘kaparot‘ in Meah Sharim, Jerusalem, on September 23, 2012 (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

In the days leading up to Yom Kippur, Jews from all walks of life make a special effort to attend selichot, late-night or early-morning sessions of repentance prayers.

Selichot prayers at the Western Wall on September 7, 2012 (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Selichot prayers at the Western Wall on September 7, 2012 (photo credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90)

On Yom Kippur itself, Israel’s streets famously become a paradise for bike riders, as driving is taboo during the holiday. Hordes of bicyclist children rampaging through formerly congested thoroughfares is a typical scene.

Riding bikes in Jerusalem on Yom Kippur, 2011 (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)

Riding bikes in Jerusalem on Yom Kippur, 2011 (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)

Even in secular Tel Aviv, the bicycle reigns supreme on the Day of Atonement. Each year, paramedics treat thousands of bicycle-related injuries on Yom Kippur, along with many cases of illness brought about by the long fast.

Empty streets by the Azrieli Towers in Tel Aviv, on Yom Kippur, 2008 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Empty streets by the Azrieli Towers in Tel Aviv, on Yom Kippur, 2008 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Of course, religion and bicycles are not for everyone, and on a day when the weather is still nice but businesses are closed and the buses don’t run, the beach is a powerful draw.

Israelis on the Tel Aviv beach during Yom Kippur in 2007 (photo credit: Flash90)

Israelis on the Tel Aviv beach during Yom Kippur in 2007 (photo credit: Flash90)