Saturday, October 11, 2008

Yom Kippur 2008

Yehuda Halevy Street erev Yom Kippur

After losing someone close, it's hard to know when and how to return to 'normal'. Is it right, after only a week of mourning, when the loss is still keenly felt, to return to pleasures like listening to music, or exercise, or writing a blog? In the orthodox Jewish tradition the mourning period continues for an entire year. In secular western culture you are expected to return to work the day after the funeral. In any event, the 'normality' one returns can never be the same as that which existed before the loss. In my case, I know that the person I lost, would have wanted me and everyone who loved her, to continue living their lives to the fullest, as she always tried to live hers.

And so, on Yom Kippur, I took to the streets to re-experience the surreal pleasure of a city without cars. Although other cities in the world hold an annual carless day, there is no city in the world that can match Tel Aviv (and other Israeli cities) on Yom Kippur for its total absence of motorized vehicles. The context of this unique phenomenon is of course religious and not environmental but for "seculars" who do not fast on Yom Kippur, the result is what counts. And if we are unable, or unwilling, to spend the day fasting, praying and in general begging the Almighty to inscribe us in the Book of Life, then we can at least contemplate for one blessed day a year, our own city. Tel Aviv on Yom Kippur is revealed anew, unclogged, unpolluted by poisonous fumes, revving engines and blaring sound systems. The streets return to the people, and especially to the children.

Girls on bikes, the La Guardia underpass

The Kiryah and Azrielli towers as seen from an empty Kaplan Street

The Ayalon freeway facing south