Yom Kippur Hydration and Safety


It’s hard to recall a Yom Kippur in Israel that did not include hearing of someone fainting from dehydration.  This year Yom Kippur will be a little different. The Coronavirus pandemic is the cause for a lot of changes in society with the most significant change this holiday season being the davening in shuls. This year Israel is not going to be in a lockdown but we still need to be very cautious.

This year Yom Kippur is on September 16th and while the heatwave is over and the weather is cooling down a bit, it is still hot in Israel. The heat is of particular concern this year as many people will be Praying outdoors while wearing a mask. Wearing a mask outdoors (unless in your own property) is mandatory in Israel, and those who are caught not wearing a mask correctly can be fined significantly. Wearing a mask, especially in the hear causes people to sweat a lot and feel hot- but there are things you can do to make the experience more comfortable.

Choose your mask: 

  1. Use a mask that is made from 100% cotton as cotton is a more breathable fabric than the plastic or polyester some masks are made of. According to the CDC, good options include woven cotton sheets and T-shirt fabric.
  2. Check the fit. Your mask should be somewhat snug on your face, but you don't want it to be so tight that it's uncomfortable or difficult to breathe through. ry one that has adjustable ties,Don't put it on so tight that you can't breathe.

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Here are some other important points to keep in mind:

  • Sweating makes them unusable so it is important to have several clean ones available to change If you do need to change your mask, do it in an area without other people. asYou don't want to take it off near other people and possibly get infected or infect them.  
  • Take a 15-minute break from wearing their mask every two hours to give their skin time to air out. 


When a person fasts, everyday behavior results in a loss of fluid that is not being replaced in the course of the day.  When you talk, pray, breathe, sweat, and move, the body depletes its glycogen stores from muscles and the liver — that's the carbohydrate stores that provide quick energy. Then it starts breaking down protein within muscles and fat to produce energy. During that process, the body's metabolism slows down in order to conserve energy.  This also explains why people do not keep any weight off from a fast!  Meanwhile, hormonal reactions will fluctuate.

Preventative measures to avoid DehydrationThe very real dangers of dehydration can even lead to low blood pressure and cardiac arrest! Here are EMA Care guidelines for safe fasting in Israel:

  1. Starting 24 hours before the fast begins, drink plenty of liquids so your body’s cells are well hydrated. Avoid caffeine/lemons/lemon juice. Lemons are a natural diuretic and will result in the loss of fluids more quickly.
  2. Eat pineapple at your final meal before the fast begins! Pineapple has the enzyme bromelain which promotes good digestion. Furthermore, pineapple reduces the feeling of hunger.  In Israel, it’s impossible to find fresh pineapple this time of year, but canned pineapple also works.
  3. Minimize physical exercise on Yom Kippur. This seems logical, but if you want to go to a synagogue that’s far from home, opt to walk in the evening hours.  Walking long distances, especially in the heat, is not recommended.
  4. If someone wants to Daven in an outdoor minyam, then we recommend that they Daven in an early minyan, to avoid the heat of the day. We also recommend keeping praying short and being in a shaded area. 
  5. Recognize the danger signs of dehydration. If you experience extreme weakness, heart palpitations, dizziness, or fainting, notify local doctors or medics so you can be examined and treated. If there is vomiting, fever, confusion, or chest pains you must go to the emergency room.

The most important thing is not to put yourself at risk! The most important thing is to stay healthy and not have an emergency. Going to the hospital nowadays is very risky because of Coronavirus, so we want to minimize the amount of people in the hospital.  Taking care of your safety comes first!

EMA Care wishes you a meaningful Yom Kippur and safe fast day.  Remember - by taking care of your physical well-being, you will be able to achieve the spiritual goals of this very holy day.

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