I welcomed in Yom Kippur with shrimp, caviar, and corona; essentially beginning the holiday by creating new sins to atone for. Dinner started at 20:00, an hour after the fast was due to start, thereby declaratively sealing my decision to eat this year.
When I arrived to dinner, I was told, “There’s corona in the freezer,” which sounded even more confusing in Hebrew, as I did the mental math, wondering why corona wasn’t also in the fridge and coming to the conclusion that it was the beer, not the pandemic, that sought refuge in the freezer. I took a corona from the freezer, more for the novelty and irony of it than for the taste. (I seldom drink beer – especially with a percentage as low as 4.5).
Food was salads and shrimp(s) pasta and buttered bread with orange caviar. It was a seemingly random assortment of dishes, albeit yummy.
There were barking dogs, dancing 8-year-old girls, hand-rolled cigarettes, fruit, sorbet, cinnamon-esque buns, all topped off with Bailey’s for dessert.
This was how my fourth Yom Kippur in Israel began, differing tremendously from the last three:
#1 – (Jerusalem, 2014) Shul hopping throughout the city, hours spent in Independence Park, and a Dutch tour group spotting with headsets and a guide. Holy, and a successful fast to my memory.
#2 (Tel Aviv, 2018) Oy. 40 minute walk to Tel Baruch beach to tan, then followed by a grueling trek back in all my sun-fried delusion. 3.5 mile walk to Rabin Square to top off the fast, almost fainting on the way. (Seeing bikers on the empty Ayalon made the journey bearable).
#3 (Erez, 2019) Spent in the same place as this year, midway through felt weak, faint, had to break the fast in the early afternoon with Oatmeal Squares. Came to the revelation that maybe I shouldn’t fast. More than shouldn’t, I couldn’t fast. I can’t fast.
#4 (Erez, 2020) Slept until noon. Ate, but not enough. Didn’t use my computer or watch Netflix. Still managed to feel gutted by the end of the day.
I certainly haven’t run the gamut of Israeli Yom Kippurs, but as my experiences have slanted secular, I question a day that was shrouded in routine, solemnity, and black patent shoes growing up. Is the day holy? Is the fast the linkage to the holiness? Or is the day merely a day, made magical by empty highways and bikes?
I didn’t see any highways or bikers, but maybe la-shana ha’baah b’Tel Aviv…