By Rotem Gabay, Israel Shaliach
Once a year, when the sun is the same angle, it colors the sky orange and pink, a cool evening breeze blows, and it is quiet all around. It is a wonderful time to relax, get the bike out of the warehouse and greet in a loud voice: Happy Bicycle Day!
Yes, just as you have heard, for most Israelis, Yom Kippur is a bicycle holiday. On Yom Kippur the roads are empty and there is no mechanical movement, so somewhere in history, in the head of a secular Israeli, he came up with an idea. If there are no cars and the roads are free, we will use bicycles.
As a kid, I remember how we would schedule to meet at a certain hour after praying every vow in a synagogue, and walk around with the bikes until Yom Kippur was over. We would ride with at least 25 kids all over town. There were years when we also set goals for ourselves. One of them was that next year we will be big enough to pass the big mall and a year after that we will be able to bike alone to Tel Aviv!
Yom Kippur in Israel is my favorite day of the year. There is nothing like the quiet that prevails over the streets. Everything stops. It's time that we go over the past year and appeal. I go to synagogue and meet people there every year on this day. There are no words in any language that can explain the magic that runs in the air on that special day.
For the next time you visit Israel on Yom Kippur, notice the special silence around you, but also pay attention to the sides. There are a lot of kids on bikes, which can be a bit dangerous.
In honor of Yom Kippur, I wish you a Gmar Hatimah Tovah. May you choose to be better and fulfill at least one more dream.