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Why more and more secular Israelis are fasting on Yom Kippur

Recent studies show that more Israelis are fasting on Yom Kippur not so much as a religious ritual, but as a way to reconnect with their Jewish identity or create their own spiritual space.

A 2010 survey conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics showed that 25.7% of secular Jews in Israel aged 20 and older fast on Yom Kippur. It also showed that the customs most frequently observed among the secular are participation in traditional Passover dinner ceremonies — 81.5% reported celebrating the Seder and 67.3% lighting Hanukkah candles — festive family occasions that are not physically or spiritually difficult, like a day-long fast. 

In another survey, conducted by the Bina Center, leading up to Yom Kippur in 2013, the portion of secular Jews who intended to fast rose to 46.5%, a significant increase.

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