and how can i lizrael update on my yom kippur, holiest day of days, day of the holy of holies?
my first yom kippur in israel, my first really terrible fast, and my first yom kippur away from my shul in staten island.
let’s start with the latter: the hardest thing about my yk was this. it extended into not knowing anyone, and not feeling like it was so personal (although, you don’t get much more personal than a shul filled with jews at yk time). not all tunes and chants were the same. but most of all, i really really missed my mom and i could feel her missing me. my mom has been a huge part of the high-holiday experience for me, which i’m only realizing now. actually, i’m realizing more and more how much she was a part of every experience for me, and the more i feel that this time around, it is not a vacation, the more i’m realizing how much i miss her in my everyday life.
the fast: my first really terrible fast, i dont know why. it was very hard and i considered breaking it so i could actually pray, but after reading the mishna on the subject, i decided for some reason god decided that it is more important to fast than to pray. at the end of neilah my sickness subsided and so did my resentment and i got down and dirty with god for an hour. i suppose that’s all that matters.
now the former: originally i had my reservations about being in jerusalem for yom kippur, just like rosh hashana. then i decided, what better place to beg forgiveness from god than hell? maybe that is a bit harsh, but that is jerusalem these days.
i prayed at a medium-sized shul, mostly anglos who have been in israel for decades and make the announcements in hebrew. the shul wasn’t a spectacular part of it and didn’t really enhance my yk in any dramatic noticeable way. what was interesting was yk at night, after the service finished, and the streets literally filled with swarms of people – men, women and kids – in white, as well as bunches of kids on bikes and people walking their dogs. the traffic lights were off, and except for the occasional cop on patrol, no cars were around to disturb this phenomenon. it was really fun – and odd – to watch and be a part of.
can’t get more jewish homeland than that: jerusalem shut down on yom kippur night.
maybe the thick black stretch of emek refaim, pierre koenig, king george – for just one night – is today’s holy of holies.