Israel grinds to a halt as Jews fast for Yom Kippur

Israelis ride their bicycles on a car-free highway, during the holiday of Yom Kippur in Tel Aviv, Friday, Sept 29. 2017. Israelis are marking Yom Kippur, or 'Day of Atonement,' which is the holiest of Jewish holidays when observant Jews atone for the sins of the past year and the Israeli nation comes to almost a complete standstill. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
A man rides his bicycle on a car-free highway, during the holiday of Yom Kippur in Tel Aviv, Friday, Sept 29. 2017. Israelis are marking Yom Kippur, or 'Day of Atonement,' which is the holiest of Jewish holidays when observant Jews atone for the sins of the past year and the Israeli nation comes to almost a complete standstill. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

JERUSALEM — 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.

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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