Israel is a unique country in many ways. As the world’s only Jewish state, it is the only country that completely shuts down for one day a year, with usually busy roads becoming empty, all shops closing and even TV and radio stations going off-air for an entire day.
This year the shut down began on Tuesday evening for Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement and the holiest day of the Jewish calendar and the country will gradually get back to its usual self on Wednesday evening and Thursday morning.
All flights in and out of Ben Gurion airport ceased at 1:35 pm (Israel time). The airport reopens on Wednesday night with arrivals starting at 9:30 pm, while departures will resume at 11:30 p.m. Border crossings also shut just after noon and will reopen at 10.00 pm, Wednesday, according to the Times of Israel.
As the sun goes down on Israel, all local radio and television broadcasts gradually fall silent. Israeli websites also stop reporting on news and messages on social media explain that they ill be “offline” for the next 25 hours.
Public transport is also halted with buses and trains stopping their routes. When the fast finishes on Wednesday, only two trains will run that night, one from Naharia to Ben Gurion airport and another from Beersheba to Tel Aviv. The rest will resume Thursday morning.
Busy highways and congested roads will be left nearly empty during the holiday as driving is typically seen as taboo, leaving many Israelis travelling with bicycles across the country. Many people take this opportunity to walk and play on roads that would normally be inaccessible to humans.
During Yom Kipp, Hospitals work with limited emergency medical crews. As Israel is hot and the Jewish people are fasting both food and water for 25 hours during Yom Kippur there is usually an increase in dehydration and other complications related to fasting. Children, pregnant women, the elderly and those who cannot fast for medical reasons are not required to fast.
It is unique that a country would shut down this way for an entire day. Only in Israel.
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