On the eve of Yom Kippur 5781, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin called on Jewish communities around the world to light an additional memorial candle in memory of the more than 1,400 Israeli victims of COVID-19.

“The coronavirus pandemic and its victims have caused me to think about those who have lost their lives, about the invisible angel of death which does its terrible work of taking lives in isolated emergency rooms without families there to part from them with a last touch, holding hands, stroking faces. To those dear ones, over 1,000 victims, I decided to dedicate a prayer and to light a candle in their memory,” said Rivlin in a video statement.

The full text of the prayer was included in a statement from the president:

“May G-d remember, and may the People of Israel remember the souls of those Israelis who have lost their lives this year because of the coronavirus. May we remember those pioneers and founders, Holocaust survivors, veteran immigrants, fighters and creators, students of Torah and worshippers of the Lord, Jews and Arabs, old and young.

“They were all loved, all, known, all had names and faces. Fathers and sons, grandmothers and grandfathers, friends and acquaintances, neighbors and colleagues. An inseparable part of the fabric of our lives. May we be forgiven for the sin of weakness and inability, for not doing enough, for not managing to save them. Because of that, lives were lost.

“Our Father, our King, prevent the spread of the disease and give our leaders the understanding and the strength to lead us to peace, and to guide us to peace, and lead us, Lord, to better days, to live, happiness and peace. May it be Your will, King of the universe, that health, prosperity, peace and unity will reign in our borders. May the souls of our brothers and sisters, the victims of the pandemic, be bound in the bond of life, and may we say ‘Amen.’ ”

In a special televised address on Thursday night as Israelis prepared to enter a strict lockdown to try to bring down the country’s soaring COVID-19 morbidity rate, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Israelis to put their differences aside and join forces to defeat the pandemic.

“Lockdown measures are not easy, but saving lives trumps everything. This is a state of national emergency. We are fighting a protracted war, fighting for our economy and our health, and our lives,” he said.

According to Health Ministry data, 13 percent of the 45,016 coronavirus tests carried out on Saturday were positive. As of Sunday morning, the number of active COVID-19 cases in the country was 68,788. Of those, 749 cases were listed as serious with 196 people on ventilators. To date, there have been 1,450 deaths in Israel due to the virus out of a total of 229,374 confirmed infections.

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