You live part of your life somewhere in the large portion of the globe that is not Israel, then one day you choose to pack up and come live in Israel and honestly, the last thing you’d think will change in your life is the irremovable, unsinkable and utterly unshrinkable Yom Kippur. And that’s where you are so really wrong.
Let’s start with the times of the fast. Most of us in continental Europe and in the US are used to begin fasting sometime after seven in the evening and ending well after eight, if not later. Oh, those three last hours of thirst and hunger, how tough it was to focus in any kind or prayer. Here in Israel, only a couple of years ago decision was made to stop switching to winter saving time on the weekend before Yom Kippur, ceasing a tradition that made the fast start as early as at five. That’s awfully early, but the good consequence was that by six the fast was over and ahead plenty of hours to banquet over all what we dreamt for in those 25 hours.
Then, way before the bicycles, there is the content. Outside Israel there is zero “Kippur content” in the news, naturally. The world around continues its life, unmoved by the fact that a bunch of Jews are going through the 10 days of awe and then fast for one full day. In Israel, Yom Kippur is everywhere, on the radio and news in general, but they speak much more about one specific Yom Kippur – the one of 1973 – than about the meaning of awe and atonement. I never heard one interviewer end an interview, even to Chief Rabbis, without asking the “that Yom Kippur” question. Where were you at 1.47pm, when the sirens went off?
And last come the Yom Kippur bicycles, another fully Israeli product. This is our place, let us fill it with overjoying children free to ride in any direction, at any speed, at the time when Kol Nidre is repeated three times in every synagogue.
Like the song goes, Israel changes everything.
*Daniela Fubini (Twitter @d_fubini) lives and writes in Tel Aviv, where she arrived in 2008 from Turin via New York.