|Empty Streets on Yom Kippur|
If it weren't for the voices of children playing in the distance, you would be forgiven for thinking that you had walked into a ghost town. The streets are eerily quiet, the shops are shut up and bolted, not a single car moves on the roads and the usual media background noise from TV and radio is silenced. This is Yom Kippur in Israel: The holiest day of the year when the penitent seek God's forgiveness and even the unbelievers fast, just in case.
|Children playing in traffic free streets -Yom Kippur|
One of the privileges of living in Israel for several years, was the opportunity to experience the Biblical Holidays as a part of normal life. It is one thing to read about them in the Bible and to imagine the ancient Israelites listening to Moses as he declares all that God has revealed to him on Mount Sinai, it is quite another to actually physically sit with a modern Israeli family and celebrate these ancient rites throughout the year and partake in a tradition passed down from generation to generation, just as Moses prescribed.
The Days of Awe
Yom Kippur marks the end of the period of 10 Days known as the Days of Awe. These are the holiest days of the year according to Jewish tradition. It is a time of introspection to consider ones sins, to repent and ask forgiveness from God and from those we have wronged. An opportunity to put things right before Yom Kippur, the most solemn and important day of the year, begins. The 10 Days of Awe begin with the Feast of Trumpets, today known at Rosh Hashanah (New Year). God instructed Israel to set aside the 1st day of the 7th month as a day of Sabbath rest and sacred assembly that would be commemorated with the blowing of trumpets. The Hebrew dates follow a lunar calendar so the date changes each year.
(Feast of Trumpets)
2013 Date: Sundown 4th Sept to Sundown 5th Sept (Jews outside Israel celebrate until 6th Sept)
Biblical Reference: Lev 23:23-25, Num 29:1-6 Also referred to in Nehemiah 8:1-12
(Day of Atonement)
2013 Date: Sundown 13th Sept to Sundown 14th Sept
Biblical Reference: Lev 16:29-34; 23:26-32, Numbers 29:7-11; Hebrews 9:11-14, 22-24, 10:1-25