10726574_10202841687460122_1615636041_n# was born Jewish. It doesn’t matter if my family is religious or if I even want to believe in any God- that is how my community sees me, or at least saw me before I began my adventures. Since I was about 5, I have had to learn about God. Since I was about 8, I have had exams about what was written in the Bible. Then I grew up and was taught to read it properly, then I had to learn not only the Bible, but also wise words of the Jewish philosophers as well. I am not sure what the government’s purpose was when they decided so, but in my case, I grew up disliking the concept of religion very much. Now when I think back I understand that it is interesting and helpful, but I will never see myself Jewish. I will not see myself Christian, Muslim or anything else. I suppose that I am driven to be Agnostic.

I decided to share all that in order to emphasize the role ‘Yom Kippur’ has in my “religious” life. This day remains holy in my eyes, no matter what my mind tells me.

In Judaism, there is a period of 10 days between the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur, also known as the ten days of repentance. In this period you ask God for forgiveness. And more importantly, you ask it from your friends. You ought to think about the year that has passed, about the year that is awaiting. Yom Kippur is the 10th day. In this day you fast for 25 hours. As I see it, you fast so you will have no distractions while you think. I love the idea behind it. This is a day when you need to connect to yourself and you can’t help but be true. No one is there to check your life but yourself- you decide what is right.  You need to make sure you face your cons not just with yourself or with God but with the people that surround you. I mean, that is why there are religious rules in the first place, to make sure you are a better person, right? To leave no room for excuses… You shall not kill because you will take a life of a human being, not because God will be mad. God knows killing is bad.

There is another fact that is important to be mention about this day – cars are not allowed to be driven on the streets. This means that all the roads are clear from cars. This also means that all the roads are filled with people on their bicycles, rollerblades, skateboards and what not.
Believe it or not, when I think back I see holiness in that as well. When I was younger I did not think of the meaning behind the holiday, all I knew is that freedom is coming up so I better clean my rollers. Some were magical because I got to ride far away with my dad and brother. Later, my brother and I replaced our poor dad with our new and cool teenage friends.

For the past 3 years I used this day to think. I sat until the evening and was quiet. I did not fast and certainly wasn’t in solitude for 25 hours but that didn’t matter to me. All that matters is that I thought- I have my own way to do it. I went out and walked the streets late at night to feel the true peacefulness. Just imagine, one night a year when there is no way you will see a car.

I don’t need 25 hours, I need 356 days. Every conversation. thinkthinkthink.

To try and conclude, this is a special day for me because it is a symbol for my own religion. I think that we should care, every day, no matter what. We should try and see the baggage each word and action carries. I might dislike the fact that I am Jewish because I was born this way, but I am proud that my religion has this day.

This year I got the chance to experience this day in a new way. I got the chance to invite two dear friends from my new school to my new house in Shoresh (meaning root in Hebrew) to experience this day with me. We did not fast but we took a walk in the forest instead. I got to think about everything on the roof in the darkness while silence and friendship surrounded me.

 

Written by Ma’ayan Agmon

Edited by Maria Tîrnovanu

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