As thousands of suburban Jews prepare to observe Yom Kippur -- the holiest days on the Hebrew calendar -- many Jewish political candidates are taking a break from their busy campaign schedules to reflect, pray and atone.
Yom Kippur follows Rosh Hashana in what is known as the High Holy days of the Jewish religion. Also know as the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur is observed with religious services and 24 hours of fasting.
"It's a time of reflection to look back at how you led your life and hope that you learned from the mistakes you made in the past year," said state Rep. Sid Mathias, who is running against state Rep. Carol Sente for the redistricted 59th District House seat
"Fortunately it's not a weekend, which is usually more intense for campaigning than during the week, but there will be absolutely no campaigning over the holiday," Mathias said.
Instead of seeking votes, Mathias plans to be at his temple in Buffalo Grove on Tuesday night and most of Wednesday before breaking the fast at a friend's house later that night.
"Bright and early Thursday morning we'll be back on the campaign trail," he added.
Mathias isn't the only one taking a break to observe the Jewish holiday this week.
State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, the incumbent Democrat representing the 57th District, plans to cease all campaigning to observe Yom Kippur and will close her campaign office.
"We did the same thing for Rosh Hashana," she said. Nekritz said she tries to avoid checking email or doing anything campaign related during this time.
Any candidate knocking on doors in her area would soon realize that 25 percent of the district is Jewish, she added.
Her opponent in November, Republican Jonathan Greenberg, is also an ordained Rabbi and who plans to stay off the campaign trail between Monday and Thursday afternoons.
"The High Holidays are very important to my family, and I'm not going to have my staff knocking on people's doors. We'll take time off and come back recharged on Thursday," Greenberg said.
Veteran Jewish politician U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Evanston Democrat representing the 9th Congressional District, said voters won't miss her phone calls or knocks on their doors during Yom Kippur. Most campaigns will hardly be disrupted as this year Yom Kippur falls during the week and much of candidates' face time with voters happens during weekends, she said.
"The office is closed. I'll go with my sister to the synagogue on Tuesday night," Schakowsky said.
Deerfield Democrat Brad Schneider, who is running in the 10th Congressional District, will attend a Kol Nidre service Tuesday night to mark the start of the holiday, and plans to attend services all day Wednesday, as is Jewish tradition, a campaign spokeswoman said.
Following Wednesday's services, Schneider will attend a memorial for his wife's father, who died earlier this year, and he will break the traditional Yom Kippur fast that night with family and friends, the spokeswoman said. Schneider is challenging Republican incumbent Robert Dold of Kenilworth for the Congressional seat.
Yom Kippur begins at sundown on Tuesday.
• Daily Herald staff writer Russell Lissau contributed to this report.