Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year in Judaism in Israel — and also one of the busiest for paramedics and emergency workers.
Thousands of Israelis, from young children to adults, spend Yom Kippur, in which there is nearly zero traffic, using bikes, skateboards, skates and scooters on the open roads without worrying about cars. Nevertheless, emergency responders treated 265 cyclists, skateboarders and rollerbladers for injuries, according to reports.
Throughout the 25-hour food and water fast, another 228 people were treated for dehydration and fainting with 21 requiring resuscitation, Magen David Adom said in a statement.
Paramedics were also called by 134 women who went into labor during the day. Over the day, seven women delivered their babies either at their homes or in ambulances, MDA said.
Anticipating the extra calls, more MDA workers are on call for Yom Kippur than on a regular day. The service said that overall, emergency responder treated 1,659 people.
Meanwhile, in China, Israel’s top tennis player observed Yom Kippur by quitting his quarter-final match mid-game when the sun began to set.
Dudi Sela, ranked 77 in the world, had requested that the game at the Wuhan Open in China start earlier, but the request was denied. Sela was down 1-0 in the third set when he stopped playing. The first two sets were split.
For his withdrawal, Sela sacrificed his standing in the tournament and forfeited $34,000 in prize money and the chance to win 90 ranking points. He isn’t the first Jew to sit out an important event due to the holy day. The Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers’ Hall of Famer pitcher Sandy Koufax famously missed the first game of the World Series against the Minnesota Twins on Oct. 6, 1965, choosing to sit out the game for Yom Kippur.
The Jerusalem Post lauded Sela in an editorial.
“The athlete’s complete dedication to winning is sometimes subordinated to greater ideals. Loyalty to people, to God, sometimes takes precedence,” the paper wrote. “And this is a powerful message. Life is not all about self-realization and personal advancement. True meaning often comes from selfless acts that affirm our deeper affiliation and belonging.”