Yom Kippur, Herzliya Style

8 Oct

Walking on the highway

Walking on Highway 2 as some cyclists approach.

Me and cyclists

It's a long way to Haifa!

Boat Memorial along HIghway 2. I usually whiz right past this in my car but I was able to get a better look today.

At the Boat Memorial

View of Highway 2 and Herzliya Industrial Zone from Boat Memorial

Today was Yom Kippur, considered to be the most holy and solemn day of the year for Jewish people. Also known as the Day of Atonement, it is the culmination of the Jewish High Holy Days that begin with Rosh Hashana. According to the Jewish faith, God has inscribed everyone’s fate for the coming year on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. During the ten days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, Jews try to amend their ways and seek forgiveness for wrongdoings before their fate is sealed on Yom Kippur. According to my Hebrew teacher, many Israelis who do not attend usually synagogue will attend on Yom Kippur. Sometimes the synagogue is full and people gather outside for the many services held during the course of the day. At the conclusion of the last service of the day the shofar is blown, signaling the conclusion of a 25-hour fast. Additionally, during the 25 hours that Yom Kippur is observed roads are closed, television and radio channels cease broadcasts, and even Ben-Gurion Airport is closed.

Yom Kippur has come to be known as “the bicycle holiday” in Israel. Since all roads are closed, many people take to their bikes and ride along highways that are usually clogged with high speed traffic. Brad and I walked over to the highway nearest our home and enjoyed walking down the lanes we usually drive on to go to Tel Aviv. There were quite a few bicyclists on the road but not nearly as many as I’ve heard about in Tel Aviv proper. We actually did see an occasional car drive by and are not sure what the story was there. Perhaps they were clueless tourists or doctors out on emergency call.

I took a walk around 5:30 p.m. to our local synagogue hoping to hear the shofar being blown. I’d arrived too late. As I approached the synagogue, I saw lots of people streaming out on to the road, walking home after the conclusion of the final service. Many people were wearing white (traditional garb for the holiday) and all the men were wearing white silk kippahs. I saw many people snacking on fruit or cookies, no doubt anxious to break their 25-hour fast.

Next year, Brad and I should plan ahead and rent bikes for Yom Kippur. It was fun walking on the highway today but I think it would be even more fun to ride into Tel Aviv on a bicycle without having to contend with cars on the road.

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