JERUSALEM, Israel -- By 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, the streets of Jerusalem will be empty. It is the tenth of Tishri on the Hebrew calendar, the day when Jews in Israel and abroad observe Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the most solemn day of the year.
Families will have completed the meal and cleared the tables to begin a 25-hour complete fast and many will attend evening services at neighborhood synagogues.
Near the beginning of the service, the familiar Kol Nidre chant will beckon congregants to repent before God for every sin committed knowingly or presumptuously during the year.
Kol Nidre, which means "all vows," asks forgiveness for unfulfilled promises and words and actions that may have injured someone else.
Jewish tradition teaches that on this day, God decides who will be inscribed in the Book of Life for the coming year; thus the greeting g'mar hatima tova -- may you be inscribed for a good year.
Only security and emergency vehicles are allowed on the roads, making the quiet that descends countrywide in Israel almost palpable.
Yom Kippur is a day set apart -- a day to seek forgiveness and a new beginning before the Lord for the coming year. It is a day that unites Jewish people from every segment of society before the Lord.