The days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are called hayamim hanoraim, – the days of awe. They are days of repentance, reflection and making things right with God and fellow man. I already wrote about the slichot going on in our city, and in addition there are various other special events during this time. Yesterday evening we were at a concert called “Singing prayers”, with a strong theme of repentance.
As I feel this special air and atmosphere in Jerusalem these days, I am very encouraged. While people around the world only hear about violence and terror in Jerusalem, there is also this living and thriving people building something great here!
There are Jews who say that they will come on Aliyah to Israel only after the Messiah comes and makes everything right, – well, I am telling you, it is happening, and those of us who are here get to be a part of it!
Yes, Israel is a secular state, and there are things we would have liked to see different, but if we just open our eyes to the wonderful processes going on here, we have great reason to be encouraged! Where else does the news-person on the radio greet everyone with “May you have your name written in the book of life”? And where else is one invited to prayer at the supermarket (or at IKEA!)? Where else do tens of thousands come out for prayer in the middle of the night?!
Tomorrow night we start Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the whole year, the Day of Atonement. We fast from both food and drink and Israel takes a 25 hour break from regular daily activities. No radio or TV broadcast. The streets that are normally packed with cars are empty, with the exception of people out walking (of children biking) in the middle of the street. There are long prayer services happening from the beginning of Yom Kippur and basically until it’s end, – and they are very well attended!
Even in anticipation of this holy day, I am filled with awe over the sanctification of this time that God has set apart. And to get to be here in the holy city of Jerusalem and pray at that time… What a privilege!
With this I am wishing all of us an easy fast and a meaningful Yom Kippur!