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High Holidays attract secular Jews to Jerusalem

Israeli secular Jews take Selichot tours in Jerusalem to reconnect with their Jewish roots through the poems and prayers recited in the period leading up to the Hebrew New Year and Yom Kippur.
Thousands of Jews perform the Selichot prayer at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site, in the old city of Jerusalem late on September 23, 2014, in the lead up to Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Clashes broke out at Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam's third holiest shrine, as Palestinians protested against members of Jewish faith visiting the flashpoint holy site, which is also sacred to the Jews and known to them as Temple Mount, on the eve of Jewish New Year, police said. AFP PHOTO/ AHMAD GHARABLI
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JERUSALEM — The scores of stands selling Jewish traditional skullcaps in the Old City allude to the flood of secular Jews to Jerusalem. Tens of thousands of secular Jews fill the holy city at the end of the Hebrew month of Elul and the beginning of Tishrei (September-October) to listen to Selichot liturgical poems and the sounding of the shofar (ram's horn). For this purpose, they purchase nice traditional skullcaps to wear.

Selichot is a collection of prayers and liturgical poems that are entreaties for forgiveness and absolution from the Creator for one’s sins. It is customary for Jews to recite these repentance prayers from the month of Elul (the last month in the Jewish calendar) until the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, which this year falls on Oct. 4.

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