Yom Kippor in Israel’s City of Sin

26 Sep

A lone police car travels down Tel Aviv’s usually busy roads, inching along as if to make as little sound as possible. Apart from the alien presence of this one car, there’s not a vehicle to be seen for miles. The city, on a normal day teeming with beeping bus drivers, shouty Sheruts and over-dramatic car-drivers, has had it’s volume turned down. This is how Israel does Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in the Jewish calendar, aka the Day of Atonement. Ever the country of extremes, the many synagogues of Tel Aviv teem with people, whilst outside, the more secular/ non-Jews/ visitors navigate the city by bikes and rollerblades.

From Eruv (evening of) Yom Kippur through to its end by the sound of the shofar, a hushed festival feel envelops the city. Last night groups of people sat out on the roads on chairs, chatting, whilst those strolling past Ha Shuk Carmel (Carmel Market) could drap themselves over a waiting sofa in the middle of the road.

The previous night was shouty, screamy, filled with shots of Arak (with Rocket chasers), and generously poured vodkas. The whole of Tel Aviv, it seemed, was enjoying its last night of sin before the silence descended. These are city-lovers – fans of noise, dirt, traffic.

Then as if by magic a haze descends. Tomorrow, when the Monit taxis hoot their way through HaYakon, we’ll be sure we dreamt this whole thing – well until next year anyway…

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