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Jews Perform Atonement Rituals With Chickens And Prayers

posted 13 Sept 2013, 06:32 by Mpelembe   [ updated 13 Sept 2013, 06:32 ]

Jews in Israel observe ritual of atonement by swinging chickens over their heads, and praying by the sea symbolising the washing of sins.

JERUSALEM (SEPTEMBER 11, 2013) (REUTERS) -  Jews in Israel performed rituals in the days leading up to the holiest Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, the day of atonement on Saturday (September 14).

In the ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem, religious men and women performed the Kaparot ritual, wherein live chickens are swung over one's head.

It symbolises the transfer of sins to the chicken before it is slaughtered and donated to the poor ahead of the pre-fast meal on the eve of Yom Kippur.

"We give our sins to this chicken, and this chicken is taking our sins. We do this before Yom Kippur," said a Jewish woman, Sophie Hasson.

In Bnei Brak near Tel Aviv, Jewish worshippers said prayers near the sea, performing the Tashlich, the ritual which symbolically casts off the previous year's sins to the water.

Some believers throw bread into the river or the sea, as a symbol of their transgressions being washed away.

"We have to say the prayers near the water, and all the sins that we have will be washed away in the sea," a synagogue official, Itzhak, said.

In Jerusalem, businesses were winding down on the eve of Yom Kippur, which will be observed for 25 hours from sunset on Friday (September 13).

Jews traditionally fast for the period, often spending most of the day praying in a synagogue.

Throughout the holiday, tens of thousands of worshippers are expected to visited the Western Wall, one of Judaism's holiest sites, in Jerusalem's ancient walled city.

Hundreds of security units have been deployed in and around Jerusalem, with police guarding synagogues and public areas, according to police.

Security was tight at Jerusalem's Al Aqsa mosque compound, a holy site for Muslims, following last week's clashes between Palestinian worshippers and Israeli police.

The compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, is a stone's throw from the Western Wall.

On Friday, authorities implemented an age limit of 45 upwards for male Muslim worshippers wishing to visit Al Aqsa, while women of all ages will be allowed to pray.