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Israel grinds to a halt on holiest day of the year

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men and boys sit next to a plastic pool containing fish as they perform the Tashlich ritual in Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv September 11, 2013, ahead of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, which starts at sundown Friday. Tashlich is a ritual of casting away sins of the past year into the water.

NIR ELIAS/Reuters

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An ultra-Orthodox Jewish youth looks at a man holding chickens as they take part in the Kaparot ritual in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighbourhood, September 12, 2013, ahead of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, which starts at sundown on Friday. Kaparot is an ancient custom connected to Yom Kippur, where white chickens are slaughtered as a symbolic gesture of atonement.

AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS

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An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man performs the Kaparot ritual in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighbourhood, September 12, 2013, ahead of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, which starts at sundown on Friday. Kaparot is an ancient custom connected to Yom Kippur, where white chickens are slaughtered as a symbolic gesture of atonement.

AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS

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An ultra-Orthodox Jewish boy holds a chicken before it is slaughtered as part of the Kaparot ritual in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighbourhood, September 12, 2013, ahead of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, which starts at sundown on Friday. Kaparot is an ancient custom connected to Yom Kippur, where white chickens are slaughtered as a symbolic gesture of atonement.

AMMAR AWAD/REUTERS

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Ultra-Orthodox Jewish children stand next to their fathers as they pray during the Tashlich ritual near the shore of the Mediterranean Sea in the southern city of Ashdod September 12, 2013, ahead of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, which starts at sundown Friday. Tashlich is a ritual of casting away sins of the past year into the water.

AMIR COHEN/Reuters

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An ultra-Orthodox Jewish boy looks on as men pray during the Tashlich ritual near the shore of the Mediterranean Sea in the southern city of Ashdod September 12, 2013, ahead of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, which starts at sundown Friday. Tashlich is a ritual of casting away sins of the past year into the water.

AMIR COHEN/Reuters

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Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men take part in the Tashlich ritual near the shore of the Mediterranean Sea in the southern city of Ashdod September 12, 2013, ahead of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, which starts at sundown Friday. Tashlich is a ritual of casting away sins of the past year into the water.

AMIR COHEN/Reuters

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Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men pray as they perform the Tashlich ritual near the shore of the Mediterranean Sea in the southern city of Ashdod September 12, 2013, ahead of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, which starts at sundown Friday. Tashlich is a ritual of casting away sins of the past year into the water.

AMIR COHEN/Reuters

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Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men pray as they perform the Tashlich ritual near the shore of the Mediterranean Sea in the southern city of Ashdod September 12, 2013, ahead of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, which starts at sundown Friday. Tashlich is a ritual of casting away sins of the past year into the water.

AMIR COHEN/Reuters

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Ultra-Orthodox Jews of the Hassidic sect Vizhnitz gather on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean sea as they participate in a Tashlich ceremony in Herzeliya, Israel, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013. Tashlich, which means 'to cast away' in Hebrew, is the practice by which Jews go to a large flowing body of water and symbolically 'throw away' their sins by throwing a piece of bread, or similar food, into the water before the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, which starts on Friday.

Oded Balilty/AP

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Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men participate in a Tashlich ceremony at the Mediterranean sea, in the southern Israeli port city of Ashdod, Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013. Tashlich, which means 'to cast away' in Hebrew, is the practice by which Jews go to a large flowing body of water and symbolically 'throw away' their sins by throwing a piece of bread, or similar food, into the water before the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, which start on Friday.

Tsafrir Abayov/AP

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Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men are silhouetted as they pray during the Tashlich ritual near the shore of the Mediterranean Sea in the southern city of Ashdod September 12, 2013, ahead of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, which starts at sundown Friday. Tashlich is a ritual of casting away sins of the past year into the water.

AMIR COHEN/Reuters

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Jewish men and women participate in a Selichot, Hebrew for forgiveness, prayer ahead of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, at the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray in Jerusalem's old city, Friday, Sept. 13, 2013. Yom Kippur is Judaism's day of atonement, when devout Jews ask God to forgive them for their transgressions and refrain from eating and drinking, attending intense prayer services in synagogues.

Dan Balilty/AP

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