Editor’s note: This article was written about two weeks before the massacre in Israel.
Some of you know that I love Israel despite all its failings and the sense of betrayal most Israelis feel about their government.
But being in Israel during the High Holidays brings out a certain truth — or dimension —about this country and perhaps is the reason I feel so comfortable here.
Yes the religious guys offering you blessings in the middle of the sidewalk — almost forcing you to engage them — is somewhat oppressive.
But when the sun sets on Erev Yom Kippur and the people stop driving, shopping obsessively, eating in restaurants, drinking coffee in cafes, rushing here and there, working in their offices or on the streets building faster and sleeker means of transportation and more condos and office buildings, and would-be travellers stay in their neighborhoods without the benefit of trains and buses — peacefulness reigns.
And the air is fresh and sweet. Even the highways are silent.
The morning of Yom Kippur, the secular take their children to the playground or ride their bikes with their children in tow along the empty streets — disturbed only by the occasional ambulance.
There is a silence that is almost a sound, as in the song — you hear it all around you reminding you that you are in an almost Jewish country where for once you are not the minority and — secular or religious as you might be — you are at home.