Yom Kippur in Israel is a phenomenon you’re probably not going to find anywhere else in the world. By law, vehicles are forbidden from traveling the roads giving a feeling of doom – a deserted city with no cars. All the business are closed, TV and radio stations are shut down, the entire country goes blank. It’s quite a sight for anyone living the modern life who has come to take all those things as granted.
Why? Wikipedia explains :
Yom Kippur (Hebrew: יוֹם כִּפּוּר or יום הכיפורים, IPA: [ˈjom kiˈpur]), also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest and most solemn day of the year for the Jews. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services. Yom Kippur completes the annual period known in Judaism as the High Holy Days or Yamim Nora’im ("Days of Awe").
Interestingly, even most of my secular Israeli friends observe this one special day:
As one of the most culturally significant Jewish holidays, Yom Kippur is observed by many secular Jews who may not observe other holidays. Many secular Jews attend synagogue on Yom Kippur—for many secular Jews the High Holy Days are the only recurring times of the year in which they attend synagogue,—causing synagogue attendance to soar.
So I decided this is worth documenting and took a short 40 minutes walk around central Jerusalem to try and show you a bit of what a no-cars city might feel like. It actually feels fantastic…
A bit spooky, isn’t it?
More on this special no-cars day in Israel: