This Yom Kippur was truly like no other, and I can say that with no doubt in my mind. In Alabama or anywhere in America, for most if not all Jewish holidays pass with little statewide/nationwide recognition and with no tradition to it outside of family/friend traditions. In Israel, especially in Jerusalem, it is the exact opposite. Here, whether you are Jewish or not, your city recognizes Yom Kippur. Israel “shuts down” for around 25 hours during this holiday. You will see little to no cars driven (I saw 2), every store is closed, and everyone is off work. It is nothing like anything I’ve ever seen before.
The day started by taking a bus to Jerusalem. It was around an hour and a half from Hod Hasharon. Once we arrived, we went into a youth hostel. In there we chose which synagogue we would attend and went to our rooms. After this we went to our rooms and prepared to eat our final dinner before the fast. After we had our dinner we went into groups to head to our synagogues for services. I went to a conservative temple, which was the furthest walk away, because we couldn’t drive due to the holiday. Midway through the service, my madrahim Lihi, a few friends of mine, and I took a walk in the middle of the empty streets where kids all around would be riding bikes or scooters through the streets. We learned that non-religious kids know this day as the day that they can ride their toys all throughout the streets.
The next morning we woke up later than most days to get ready for day services that start at 10 am. I went to a service that was held at the top of the hostel. It was very beautiful and welcoming. After the service we had the rest of the afternoon to have down time at the hostel. When it was around 6:30 pm, we walked to the western wall to get ready for breaking the fast. We witnessed first many men and women here to pray at the wall and it were very crowded. When it got time to break fast, which was well waited for, we saw in the distance a stand where everyone was standing around so we check it out. We see that there are people handing out food and drinks to break the fast. I learned that a shofar was blown to end the fast. After that we returned home to Hod Hasharon. This will be a Yom Kippur I will surely never forget!