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Photo essay

Prayers in a pandemic: Yom Kippur in pictures

As virus surges worldwide, Jews offer pleas to be inscribed in the book of life — in synagogues, backyards and drive-ins

  • Rabbi Jonathan Berkun is seen on a large screen as people watch during a drive-in Yom Kippur service put on by Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center at the Dezerland Park on September 28, 2020 in North Miami, Florida (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP)
    Rabbi Jonathan Berkun is seen on a large screen as people watch during a drive-in Yom Kippur service put on by Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center at the Dezerland Park on September 28, 2020 in North Miami, Florida (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP)
  • Israelis pray outside a synagogue ahead of Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish year in Tel Aviv, Israel,  Sept. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
    Israelis pray outside a synagogue ahead of Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish year in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sept. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
  • Illustrative: Congregants stand outside their vehicles during a Yom Kippur service hosted by the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, during the coronavirus pandemic, September 28, 2020, at the Dezerland Park drive-in theatre in North Miami, Florida. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
    Illustrative: Congregants stand outside their vehicles during a Yom Kippur service hosted by the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, during the coronavirus pandemic, September 28, 2020, at the Dezerland Park drive-in theatre in North Miami, Florida. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
  • People return from a prayer service in Borough Park on Yom Kippur, September 28, 2020 in New York City (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)
    People return from a prayer service in Borough Park on Yom Kippur, September 28, 2020 in New York City (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)
  • A Jewish man  walks through the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn, Monday, Sept. 28, 2020, in New York (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
    A Jewish man walks through the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn, Monday, Sept. 28, 2020, in New York (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
  • Rabbi Jonathan Berkun, center, leads a Yom Kippur service hosted by the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center as people watch from their vehicles, during the coronavirus pandemic, Sept. 28, 2020, at the Dezerland Park drive-in theatre in North Miami, Florida. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
    Rabbi Jonathan Berkun, center, leads a Yom Kippur service hosted by the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center as people watch from their vehicles, during the coronavirus pandemic, Sept. 28, 2020, at the Dezerland Park drive-in theatre in North Miami, Florida. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
  • Jews pray during Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, at the Magen Abraham Synagogue in Ahmedabad, India on September 28, 2020. (SAM PANTHAKY / AFP)
    Jews pray during Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, at the Magen Abraham Synagogue in Ahmedabad, India on September 28, 2020. (SAM PANTHAKY / AFP)
  • Rabbi Guido Cohen blows into a shofar as he leads a drive-in Yom Kippur service put on by Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center at the Dezerland Park on September 28, 2020 in North Miami, Florida (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP)
    Rabbi Guido Cohen blows into a shofar as he leads a drive-in Yom Kippur service put on by Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center at the Dezerland Park on September 28, 2020 in North Miami, Florida (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP)
  • Jewish men pray at the end of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and the holiest of Jewish holidays, at a public space in Moshav Haniel, September 28, 2020 (Chen Leopold/Flash90)
    Jewish men pray at the end of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and the holiest of Jewish holidays, at a public space in Moshav Haniel, September 28, 2020 (Chen Leopold/Flash90)
  • Jews pray during Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, at the Magen Abraham Synagogue in Ahmedabad, India on September 28, 2020. (SAM PANTHAKY / AFP)
    Jews pray during Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, at the Magen Abraham Synagogue in Ahmedabad, India on September 28, 2020. (SAM PANTHAKY / AFP)
  • Ariela Klepacz, left, Sarah Halpern, center, and Gabriela Klepacz, right, stand outside of their vehicle during a Yom Kippur service hosted by the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, during the coronavirus pandemic, Sept. 28, 2020, at the Dezerland Park drive-in theatre in North Miami, Florida (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
    Ariela Klepacz, left, Sarah Halpern, center, and Gabriela Klepacz, right, stand outside of their vehicle during a Yom Kippur service hosted by the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, during the coronavirus pandemic, Sept. 28, 2020, at the Dezerland Park drive-in theatre in North Miami, Florida (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
  • A man blows a shofar at the end of Yom Kippur in Moshav Haniel, September 28, 2020 (Chen Leopold/Flash90)
    A man blows a shofar at the end of Yom Kippur in Moshav Haniel, September 28, 2020 (Chen Leopold/Flash90)

Some were in synagogues, others in the street, in yards, at drive-in services or on Zoom, but for all, this year’s Yom Kippur was different from any seen before as the second wave of the coronavirus surged around the world.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Israelis not to attend indoor synagogue services during the fast, but it was unclear if that advice was heeded by all.

On Monday night, as Yom Kippur ended, police responded to several incidents of Israelis gathering in their dozens and hundreds in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak, in violation of health regulations.

Meanwhile, in the United States, reports of hospitalizations and deaths were on the rise in Jewish communities, but the exact extent of the spread of the infection is unclear, in part because testing has been openly discouraged in some places out of fear of the consequences, which could include school closures if many people test positive.

Yet, Jews around the world spent Yom Kippur offering one last plea to avert death and be inscribed in the book of life for the year to come.

Jews pray during Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, at the Magen Abraham Synagogue in Ahmedabad, India, on September 28, 2020. (SAM PANTHAKY / AFP)
Alexis Weinberg stands outside of his vehicle during a Yom Kippur service hosted by the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, during the coronavirus pandemic, Sept. 28, 2020, at the Dezerland Park drive-in theater in North Miami, Florida. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
People return from a prayer service in Borough Park on Yom Kippur, September 28, 2020, in New York City (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)
Rabbi Jonathan Berkun, center, leads a Yom Kippur service hosted by the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center as people watch from their vehicles, during the coronavirus pandemic, Sept. 28, 2020, at the Dezerland Park drive-in theater in North Miami, Florida. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Jewish men pray at the end of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and the holiest of Jewish holidays, at a public space in Moshav Haniel, September 28, 2020 (Chen Leopold/Flash90)
Rabbi Guido Cohen blows into a shofar as he leads a drive-in Yom Kippur service put on by Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center at the Dezerland Park on September 28, 2020, in North Miami, Florida (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP)
A Jewish man walks through the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn, Sept. 28, 2020, in New York (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Israelis pray outside a synagogue on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish year in Tel Aviv, Israel, Sept. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Rabbi Jonathan Berkun is seen on a large screen as people watch during a drive-in Yom Kippur service put on by Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center at the Dezerland Park on September 28, 2020, in North Miami, Florida (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP)
Jews pray during Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, at the Magen Abraham Synagogue in Ahmedabad, India, on September 28, 2020. (SAM PANTHAKY / AFP)
A man blows a shofar at the end of Yom Kippur in Moshav Haniel, September 28, 2020 (Chen Leopold/Flash90)
Ariela Klepacz, left, Sarah Halpern, center, and Gabriela Klepacz, right, stand outside of their vehicle during a Yom Kippur service hosted by the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, during the coronavirus pandemic, Sept. 28, 2020, at the Dezerland Park drive-in theatre in North Miami, Florida (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

JTA contributed to this report.

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