Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

MY Yom Kippur

My Yom Kippur


Zelda Harris


I have always found difficulty in rejoicing during the   period leading up to Rosh Hashana. For me the resurgence of the past and uncertainty of the  future is fraught with negative and positive emotions.

What did I do wrong during the past year and what collectively did we do wrong. Did I sin or was I simply errant in my ways?

To achieve peace and reconciliation between man/woman and god we need first to institute respect, consideration and trust amongst mankind.

I am personally not afraid of god. If there is indeed a god I am at one with him or her.

 I believe that Rabbi Adi Assabi was right when he told us that the human being  has everything it takes to fulfill him /herself and to make his/her mark on the world in which he lives. In other words  our destiny is in our hands.

So  we are indeed fortunate, at the end of the day its all up to us,   there are many who would argue that.

So many unacceptable situations cause us to lay blame on others. Hiding behind faith is abrogating ones responsibility.

Blaming ones parents, teachers or political leaders is an easy way out. So what do we ask for on yom kippur and how many of us actually come out of the fast cleansed and determined to make the world or ones own personal world a better place for oneself or for everyone.


I am quoting below  randomly from a letter I found…………………………………….amongst papers belonging to my middle son, who tragically died when at the pinnacle of his career.


He grew up in Israel, but for a period our family returned to the UK and it was there that he found himself in synagogue on Yom Kippur 1973when it was announced that Israel was at war with her neighbours on all fronts.  Everyone of his contempories in Israel were actively in that war.

On the Sunday 0ct 7th he, unbeknown to us went to Rex House the offices of the jewish agency and signed   on to volunteer.

On entering the apartment, as we were about to sit down to lunch, grumbling that we did not know where he was, he said” I have something to tell you” looking at me straight in the eye ‘I am going to Israel”.

My eyes welled up with tears because that was what I,   in my heart  had wanted to do from the moment I had heard the news, sitting in the ladies gallery of Rabbi Louis Jacobs’ synagogue in St Johns Wood.

 All I could say was “I am proud of you”.

Maybe most mothers would have reacted differently. Was I throwing my son into unimaginable danger through my own selfish desire. Was the State of Israel more than life itself, where do my responsibilities truly lie.?

Every Yom Kippur I mourn with those who lost their loved ones   then. I miss my son no less than they, although he lived to have a family and lost his battle with cancer.


This year there’s talk about a lack of gaiety in the air and even if there were not, the images on our tv screens and the unrevealed until now, secrets of what happened in 1973 which almost caused the annihilation of our state, will dampen any enthusiasm.

 Our leaders have a massive responsibility sabers are rattling, reaching a deafening crescendo. Our leader and the man who aspires to be president of the   most powerful nation in the world are   speaking in surreal unison about the future of our world as if they were   indeed gods.

At the end of this day maybe   we will all be empowered to make a little more effort and involve ourselves in creating public policy. We should be challenging and or supporting decisions which affect our daily lives saying no to those who tend to take Israeli public for granted, when imposing draconian laws and regulations.


“at a time when most of our young men had to leave the kibbutzim to join their fighting units, your son is amongst the first group of volunteers  who will be in a northern settlement giving the support and effort we need in keeping the country’s industry and agriculture functioning……….”


A small effort maybe but at the right time.




About the Author
Zelda Harris first came to Israel 1949, aged 18. After living through the hardships of the nascent state, she returned to England in 1966. She was a founding member of the Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry. In 1978, she returned with her family to Israel and has been active in various spheres of Israeli Society since. Together with the late Chaim Herzog, she founded CCC for Electoral Reform, was the Director of BIPAC in Israel, and a co-founder of Metuna, the Organisation for Road Safety, which received the Speaker of Knesset Quality of Life Award for saving lives on the roads and prevention of serious injury. She is now a peace activist, blogger for Times of Israel and is writing her life story.