Israel slows to a halt as Jews fast for Yom Kippur

The Yom Kippur holiday is unique in Israel, as virtually the entire country shuts down. Businesses and airports close and radio and TV stations go silent.

Holiday caps a 10-day period of reflection for observant Jews

The holiest day of the Jewish calendar has brought most of Israel 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. 

Below, religious Jewish women pray at the women's section of the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem on the eve of Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year in Judaism, Thursday. 

(Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)

Preparing for Yom Kippur

Jewish worshippers take part in the Tashlich ritual on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, ahead of Yom Kippur in Palmachim, Israel, on Thursday.

(Nir Elias/Reuters)

Empty silence

A man walks with his bicycle on a car-free highway during Yom Kippur in Tel Aviv. 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.

(Oded Balilty/Associated Press)

Atonement symbol

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish boy holds up a chicken in the area where people perform the Kaparot ritual, where white chickens are slaughtered as a symbolic gesture of atonement, ahead of Yom Kippur in Ashdod, Israel, on Wednesday. 

(Amir Cohen/Reuters)

An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man holds a chicken as he performs the Kaparot ritual ahead of Yom Kippur in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighbourhood on Wednesday.

(Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)

Tashlich ceremony

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men of the Vizhnitz Hassidic sect listen to their rabbi on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea as they participate in a Tashlich ceremony in Herzeliya on Thursday. 

(Ariel Schalit/Associated Press)

Tashlich, meaning "to cast away" in Hebrew, is the Jewish practice of going to a large flowing body of water and symbolically throwing away their sins by tossing a piece of bread, or similar food, into the water.

(Ariel Schalit/Associated Press)