Yom Kippur is done by now. It actually fell on Shabbat this week. There really is nothing quite like experiencing it in a country that sets it as a holiday.

Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. It marks the day that the sins of the people individually and corporately were forgiven. The very interesting ritual is described with much detail in Lev 16 and Lev 23. I think that this is second only to Passover in amount of text devoted to a specific holiday.

The sages throughout history have wrestled with what it means to “deny oneself.” At this point in history it is seen as:

* no eating
* no bathing
* no perfumes etc.
* no marital relations
* no leather soled shoes

(I have no idea about the leather soled shoes.)

Shabbat is normally extremely quiet but Yom Kippur is something else. There are absolutely no cars driving on the road except for ambulences or police cars. I saw one taxi and one private car full of teenage boys that got some nasty looks. In fact, driving in some areas can get you attacked by stone throwing youths. A prof at JUC told me a story of a rabbi that would sit on the main highway into Jerusalem on Yom Kippur and wag his finger at every driver that went by.

The only thing I’ve seen like it in Michigan is when an awful blizzard is happening. But with the weather being 80 and sunny with a slight breeze it just seems weird. Oh there are handfuls of pedestrians here and there walking to or from synagogue and you can bet that they walk right down the middle of the 5 lane street. There are also the more than usual amount of bike riders and rollerbladers. The unofficail nickname of the day is Festival of the Bicycles.

Historically speaking it was on this day (Oct 6, 1973 because the Jewish calendar is Lunar) that the united Arab army invaded Israel in the Yom Kippur War.

Ok. We’re off to get something to eat!