TEL AVIV, Israel (NBC News) – Israeli Orthodox Jews this week waved chickens over their heads and emptied their pockets into a water stream in a set of rituals traditionally carried out ahead of the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur.
Orthodox Jews perform the rituals to cleanse themselves from sin ahead of Yom Kippur, or ‘Day of Atonement’, which begins at sundown on Sunday and concludes at sundown on Monday.
But this year, the Jewish High Holidays season coincided with a second nationwide coronavirus lockdown imposed to curb a surge in infections, transforming what is traditionally a time for large family gatherings and group prayer into a restricted social distancing experience.
Israel went back into lockdown, its second during the pandemic, on Sept 18, but over the past week, the number of daily new cases has reached nearly 7,000 and severely straining the resources of some hospitals.
Since the outbreak began, 1,300 people have died in Israel and some 200,000 cases of coronavirus have been reported.
In Shreveport, B’nai Zion Temple’s Yom Kippur Service may be celebrated at 7 p.m. Sunday by streaming them on the B’nai Zion YouTube Channel.