If you haven’t experienced Yom Kippur in Israel and you travel to Israel from time to time we would definitely recommend you to try and add it to your bucket list. Yom Kippur in Israel, even for secular people, is an experience that you probably can’t find in any other place.
All the stores, business and restaurants are closed on that day, even in Tel Aviv, the city that never sleeps. There are no TV broadcasting and nothing on the Radio and even the VOD is shut down.There are no cars on the streets and there is a sense of tranquility that comes down on Israel around 6 pm on the evening before Yom Kippur.
Although there is no law that prohibit driving it’s become a known tradition that no one drives on Yom Kippur. This tradition brings with it two wonderful Implications. The first is quite ! when there are no cars, there is less noise and a veil of silence wraps Israel. The second and some will say the most important Is the bicycles. Since there are no cars the streets and roads are filled with children on the bikes and their parents trying to catch up with them or calmly walking along them as they paddle.
Because sometime you are not sure who fast and who doesn’t you don’t want to call people, or they don’t respond to your text, so you just pay them a visit knock on the door and say hi (when was the last time you did something crazy like that?). Old box games are brought out from the back of the closet. Cards, monopoly and other games are opened on the floor or the coffee table and we are all reminded how fun it is to just play and communicate not through smartphones.
Those who are fasting and don’t spend time in the Shul read the holiday newspaper, dive deep into a good book or slowly stroll the streets and meeting friends and neighbors. Parents from the kid’s class suddenly have existence outside of the whatsapp groups.
It feels a little like everything got stuck 40 or 50 years ago. Well not everything, mostly the means of communications and it’s amazing how this hectic country with it’s impatient inhabitants turn into such a calm and quiet place.
And if you don’t think you will have the chance to spend Yom Kippur in Israel, you can always watch this famous Yom Kippur scene from Woody Allan “Radio Days” movie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlJHdVHRBbk
You are welcome to share your Yom Kippur experience with us.