In anticipation of Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, Chabad houses across Israel have mobilized their resources. An impressive network of 780 Chabad branches has been meticulously prepared to accommodate an estimated 150,000 worshipers from diverse backgrounds in their 'open synagogues.'
For this solemn occasion, Chabad has orchestrated a remarkable transformation, converting everything from large tents to event halls and urban centers into makeshift synagogues. Even Chabad's existing synagogues have embraced the 'open synagogues' format, a project initiated by Chabad's youth. This initiative was born out of the realization that permanent synagogues across the country were often insufficient to meet the needs of the faithful.
עם ישראל בתפארתו: מאות אלפים ברחבת הכותל המערבי באמירת סליחות אחרונות, ערב יום כיפור. צילום:שלומי כהן pic.twitter.com/Bec8RXKFmI— ישראל כהן (@Israelcohen911) September 23, 2023
In a bid to facilitate the prayers of those seeking solace and connection, Chabad Youth has unveiled a special digital search engine, accessible to the general public. This tool enables individuals to locate the nearest place of prayer to their residence with ease. Chabad Youth, in its outreach, emphasizes that these open synagogues are welcoming sanctuaries for every Jew, regardless of their background. They underscore that registration is unnecessary, there are no fees for participation, and familiarity with the order of prayer is not a prerequisite. These open synagogues offer an environment where all attendees are embraced with love and kindness.
"The resounding success of the open synagogues tells a profound story," observes Rabbi Yosef Yitzhak Aharonov, Chairman of Chabad Youth. "We witness the diverse children of Israel, even those who may outwardly appear 'distant,' thronging to the synagogues, seeking to draw nearer to the Holy One, blessed be He. This day serves as a poignant reminder that despite our external divisions, we are one people, and indeed, there is 'one father for all.'"
תוכו רצוף אהבה: ערב יום כיפור, הזמר ישי ריבו ואיש החסד שוקי בריף הגיעו לתל השומר לנגן ולשיר לחולים pic.twitter.com/jFRDt2FDy6— אברהם גרינצייג (@avigrin10) September 23, 2023
As Yom Kippur approaches, preparations extend beyond Chabad. In line with security assessments and guidance from political authorities, a general closure will be enforced in the Judea and Samaria region. Moreover, border crossings into the Gaza Strip will also be temporarily sealed during this sacred day. The closure is scheduled to commence from Sunday at 12:01 AM and will conclude the following day at 11:59 PM. Decisions regarding similar closures for upcoming Jewish high holidays will be made in accordance with situational assessments.
In Jerusalem, the fast of Yom Kippur will commence at 5:58 PM on Sunday, marking the onset of solemn prayers in synagogues throughout the capital and across Israel. The fast will endure for approximately 25 hours, concluding at 7:08 PM.