How will I remember this year’s Yom Kippur?

How will I remember this year’s Yom Kippur? What mark, what memory, will it leave in my mind?

In the past, I saw Yom Kippur as a religious holiday only. As a religious Jew living outside of Israel, I saw it as a holiday that the religious paid attention to. They kept it, respected it, followed it, went to synagogue, fasted…

As for non-religious Jews… some fasted and went to the synagogue; some didn’t pay any special attention it; and some weren’t even aware of the date…

Since 1973, already living in Israel and no longer observant, every year I am impressed how the “Yom Kippur War” placed the holiday on the calendar for all, not only for the religious. Every year, starting a week before the holiday, the media is full of stories about the war. Military stories about battles; personal stories of people who participated in the war; stories of families of casualties, etc. Now Yom Kippur is remembered by all, almost as a memorial day.

And the melody for the prayer “unetane tokef” created by Yair Rosenblum from kibbutz Ein Hashita after that war, in memory of the 11 people from that kibbutz who had fallen, transformed even the prayers of Yom Kippur into something universal, known by all and sung by all.

And now I come to this year’s Yom Kippur and how my vision of this holiday is changing again, even though it is still several days away.

Already people are talking about the “Yom Kippur of the corona”… The word “Yom Kippur” is becoming synonymous to the word “mechdal” that was used after that war, the terrible negligence of the politicians, the ignoring of facts that didn’t suit them which brought us terrible consequences… The “mechdal” of the corona…

It is being used “freely” in the same way as some people use the word “shoah” to mean anything very bad…

But other than the word and the connotation that is being attached to it… the holiday itself, the prayers and the synagogues have become the focus of another kind of war, a war between various politicians, various members of the government and various parts of the public; the war between those who want the right to demonstrate and those who want the right to pray in synagogues on this Holy day… an absurd war happening in the shadow of the pandemic…

The issue is a non-issue! It should be a simple matter of health and common sense… If something is dangerous for yourself or for others, you don’t do it. And if it’s not dangerous you can act “normally”, same as walking, or breathing or crossing the street!…

I feel hurt, awed, flabbergasted… that such a fight could even exist…

So for me, I will remember this Yom Kippur as the very sad year in which prayer became an issue and Jews in the Jewish state of Israel needed to fight, to negotiate, to bargain, to threaten to topple the government… for the right to go to synagogue on Yom Kippur…

David Wolf

September 2020

Photo from Pexels, 1112048

About the Author
David Wolf writes about his experience of being a second-time husband and father. He has a daughter from his first marriage, and, with his second wife, has accrued three daughters, two sons-in-law, one grandchild and twin 8-year-old sons. He is a social worker in a mental health department and in private practice in Raanana.
Related Topics
Related Posts
Comments