More than 60 percent of Jewish Israelis plan on fasting during the Yom Kippur holiday this year, according to a new poll by the Israel Democracy Institute ahead of the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.
Yom Kippur begins on Tuesday at sundown and ends Wednesday night. Also known as the Day of Atonement, the holiday is marked with a 25-hour fast. While many religious Jews observe Yom Kippur by attending daylong synagogue services at which they pray for forgiveness and a good new year, more secular Israelis often use the day to ride bicycles on the country’s deserted highways.
According to the IDI, 60.5% of Jewish Israelis plan to fast on Yom Kippur, while 27.5% do not, 5% plan on only drinking liquids and 7% haven’t decided.
The think tank said the poll’s results tracked closely with a 2000 survey that found 63% said they planned to fast, but was a significant drop from a 1994 survey that found 73% planning on fasting.
Though most Israeli Jews will be fasting, only 23% of those surveyed said that they would attend the day’s lengthy synagogue services. Nineteen percent said they plan on attending some, 12% plan to come to synagogue just to hear the shofar — the traditional ram’s horn blown at the conclusion of the holiday — and 39% do not plan to attend at all.
IDI polled 501 Jewish Israelis on October 3-6. The maximum sampling error for the entire sample was ±4.1% at a confidence level of 95%.
Israel shuts down on every year on Yom Kippur, with public transportation, government services and television broadcasters ceasing operations for the duration of the holiday.
Last year, an Israeli soccer player sat out the first half of his English team’s game due to Yom Kippur while an Israeli equestrian withdrew from the world championships because the competition was scheduled to take place on the holiday.
Paramedics from the Magen David Adom ambulance service treated over 1,700 Israelis over Yom Kippur last year, including 268 people who fainted, dehydrated, or felt ill due to the fast.