I am back… ! Yom Kippur, 14-09-2013


Today was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement in the Jewish religion.

Traditionally, it is believed that God weighs on the balance one’s good deeds on the one hand, and one’s transgressions on the other. Then, God writes the names of all people in the Book of the Living or in the Book of the Dead of the next year.

On this day, people pray to God, begging for mercy. They are expected to go personally to those they offended and ask for forgiveness. It is believed that God forgives for sins against God, but only people can forgive offenders against them.

It is the religious custom to fast, no food and no water, from sundown till sunset of the next day (traditionally, the day is out when there are three visible stars in the sky). One does not wash either.

In Israel, Jews stop their lives for one day. No cars in the streets, no loud music from the neighbors, no stations broadcasting (of course, one can receive from foreign stations

In modern Israel, many Jews are secular, but most stick to the custom. If they don’t fast, they eat in their home cold dishes and do not cook or produce smells of food. Usually, when a Jewish fasting day is on the calendar (there a few of those) falls on the Sabbath it is postponed by a day or two. Not Yom Kipur. . Within secular Jews , there are many bike riders in the streets.

Religious people go to the nearest synagogue. On foot.  Many spend the entire day  there. And when Yom Kippur finally ends, the Shofar is blown, in special rhythm. The Shofar is made of a horn, traditionally that of a ram.

I am not a religious person. Some years I fast, some years I don’t. This year I didn’t. Not feeling so well. I usually like to go at the end of Yom Kippur to hear the Shofar. This year I didn’t.

I believe in doing my best all year to be a good person, and I am hoping God, if exists, sees me as one.

And now that Yom Kippur is finished, all I can say is: it was a beautiful day of peace, serenity and quiet.

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Today is also a very special day for me, for another reason.

Forty years ago exactly, in 1973 on  Yom Kippur, a war started. We call it ‘The Yom Kippur War’. On that year, the Hebrew lunar date coincided with the christian date of October 6.

I was a soldier myself at that time, but I was home, and I remember the peace and quiet.  And then people were yanked from the synagogues.  Then a sound of the siren pierced the holy silence,  going up and down. Then military jeeps were moving in the streets here and there.
I returned to base only on Sunday. The fighting forces were more urgent, and they caught the first rides to their bases.

There was a lot of tension in the air.
In a way, we had the same sort of tension in the weeks preceding this Yom Kippur, with all the talk about possible escalation in Syria.

Some my class mates and neighbors fought in that war and were killed or wounded.

This is their memorial day, so I am now lighting a virtual candle in their memory of those who never made it back home.

May they rest in peace.

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