Emirati activist fasts for Yom Kippur after being inspired on Israel visit

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Emirati activist fasts for Yom Kippur after being inspired on Israel visit

Saoud Saqer decided to fast on Yom Kippur to discover more about Judaism and the Jewish community after visiting Israel.

Saoud Saqer in Jerusalem
Saoud Saqer in Jerusalem

An Emirati peace activist has told how he became inspired to fast for Yom Kippur after visiting Israel for the first time this summer.

Saoud Saqer, an airspace engineer from Abu Dhabi, first visited Israel in June on a delegation following the signing of the Abraham Accords.

Saoud was among a group of young first- time visitors to Israel from the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco as part of a delegation organised by NGO, Israel-Is.

The 30-year-old, who is Muslim, left the trip feeling even more interested learning more about the Jewish community – and decided to fast for Yom Kippur.

“I decided I wanted to go and see the truth,” he said. “I got fed up with the fake media posting things about Israel. 

“I wanted to go and make an impact, to show people the truth. Fasting yom tov, it was about learning more about the Jewish community.”

Saoud visited Israel as part of a delegation

Yom Kippur was on a Thursday this year, said Saoud, which also happens to be a holy day for Muslims. “I wanted to see how the experience differed,” he said. 

“It was a really spiritual experience, where people shed light on themselves and where people think about their sins, it actually took me closer to understanding the connections between Judaism and Islam because in Islam we have something similar to it.”

Families and friends were supportive of the endeavour, he told Jewish News, with relatives in particular encouraging him.

“They were all very supportive, and wanted to hear my feedback.” Now he intends to fast for Yom Kippur again. “I’d definitely do it again. There’s lots of similarities with Islam, fasting one of the things we have in common. 

“The experience of fasting is amazing, it gives you a feeling of humility.”

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