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Cable beats Yom Kippur blackout

Modern technology has cast a shadow over the holiest day on the Jewish calendar by threatening to disrupt a 25-hour period of fasting and penitence as prescribed in the Old Testament.

For the first time since the creation of the Jewish state, Israeli families had access Tuesday and Wednesday to a wide range of television programs that are normally blacked out on Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur began at sundown Tuesday.

Israel's religious parties have failed to prevent the transmission of foreign broadcasts by the BBC, Sky Network, CNN and the Voice of America thanks to the cable television craze that has swept the country in the past six months. More than 25 percent of Israeli families are now linked to foreign TV stations courtesy of cable.

Israel comes to a standstill on Yom Kippur, when the Jews observe a day of fasting and prayer. All transport comes to a halt and national TV broadcasts are blacked out.

The only exceptions permitted are for the security forces and medical teams, although medical emergencies in previous years haven't prevented orthodox Jews from stoning ambulances that speed through the streets.

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