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Tens of thousands of IDF soldiers flock to Jerusalem for ‘introspection’

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Over the past few weeks, tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers have passed through Jerusalem and its Old City, sometimes during the day, but mostly at night, as part of an annual ritual ahead of Yom Kippur on Thursday.

These are so-called Selichot tours, named for the traditional penitential and supplicant prayers said in the period before the Day of Atonement (some Jews start saying these a month before Rosh Hashanah, others the Saturday night a week or so before Rosh Hashanah).

For the Israel Defense Forces, these tours — mostly through Jerusalem, but also Safed and other cities — are not explicitly religious in nature, with even predominantly non-Jewish units taking part in them, but are instead meant to encourage contemplation and soul-searching, Lt. Col. Nadav Danino, the head of the Education Corps’ Jewish Awareness and Identity Division, told The Times of Israel last week.

“This is time for unit-wide introspection. This isn’t a debriefing that you do after an incident or an investigation after an exercise. This is time where we’re using the Hebrew calendar, this time between the Hebrew month of Elul and the month of Tishrei, a time of introspection,” Danino said.

“As a unit, how did we do? What goals did we reach? Where do we need to improve; what do we need to learn in order to be where we want to be next year?” he said.

The tours are formally led by the participating units’ commanders, but they are joined by civilian guides, who teach the soldiers about the history of Jerusalem and the Old City. “They often........

© The Times of Israel

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