Israel grinds to a halt as Jews fast for Yom Kippur

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man swings a chicken over his children's head as part of the Kaparot ritual in Bnei Brak, Israel, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017. Observant Jews believe the ritual transfers one's sins from the past year into the chicken, and is performed before the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish year which starts at sundown Friday. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

JERUSALEM (AP) – The holiest day of the Jewish calendar has brought most of the country to a halt for Judaism’s day of atonement.

Yom Kippur began Friday evening capping a 10-day period of soul-searching for observant worshippers that began with the Jewish New Year festival. It is observed with a 25-hour fast and long prayers asking God for forgiveness.

The holiday is unique in Israel as virtually the entire country shuts down. Businesses and airports close; radio and TV stations go silent. Roads are eerily quiet devoid of traffic.

Some secular, mostly young, Israelis take advantage of near-empty roads and highways with bicycle and skateboard rides.

Israel’s military shut West Bank crossings citing security assessments.

A Palestinian had killed three Israelis and wounded another at a settlement on Tuesday.

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