Skip to main content

Please note: From 2 to 30 November, the Jewish Museum Berlin will remain closed due to coronavirus restrictions.

Cycling Holiday

Yom Kippur in Israel

Maybe I should have fasted, but instead, I was rubbing my injured knee and wrist, picking up my bicycle from the road where I’d fallen.

On Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, one is supposed to reflect on one’s sins over the last year, to apologize to friends and family, to pray and to fast. And as it is the holiest of all Jewish holidays, it is widely respected in Israel, even by atheists. Trains, buses, and airplanes all stop running; shops and restaurants remain closed; even driving a car is taboo. And so, with the streets and highways empty and nothing on the radio or TV, it has become the perfect occasion for those of us who don’t take atonement all that seriously to go out for a bike ride.

Consider: there are hardly any bike lanes in Israel and the local drivers are not known for their patience. That’s how Yom Kippur has established itself as the unofficial holiday of cycling – one I participate in with great pleasure. I was riding through hilly Jerusalem, up and down, looping and weaving – until this rather punishing crash.On Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, one is supposed to reflect on one’s sins over the last year, to apologize to friends and family, to pray and to fast. And as it is the holiest of all Jewish holidays, it is widely respected in Israel, even by atheists. Trains, buses, and airplanes all stop running; shops and restaurants remain closed; even driving a car is taboo. And so, with the streets and highways empty and nothing on the radio or TV, it has become the perfect occasion for those of us who don’t take atonement all that seriously to go out for a bike ride.

Consider: there are hardly any bike lanes in Israel and the local drivers are not known for their patience. That’s how Yom Kippur has established itself as the unofficial holiday of cycling – one I participate in with great pleasure. I was riding through hilly Jerusalem, up and down, looping and weaving – until this rather punishing crash.

Next year, I think I’ll stay at home on Yom Kippur.

Avner Ofrath, Media

Yom Kippur, Tel Aviv, 2009

Citation recommendation:

Avner Ofrath (2012), Cycling Holiday. Yom Kippur in Israel.
URL: www.jmberlin.de/en/node/6511

Share, Newsletter, Feedback

Holidays: Old Rituals, New Customs (16)

Old Rituals, New Customs

Museum employees talk about traditions on Jewish holidays.

New Customs for the New Year

Shlomit Tripp about tashlikh boats and petals on the water

Picture of scholars with books discussing with each other

Kol Nidre and the “Civil Improvement of the Jews”

Haim Mahlev on controversies throughout the ages

Apples in Honey and Gefilte Fish

Museum employees share their personal experiences of the High Holidays

Interview
2013

Cycling Holiday

Avner Ofrath on Yom Kippur in Israel

Jewish Halloween

Naomi Lubrich on candy as a tricky matter for synagogues on Simhat Torah

Menurkeys for Thanksgivukkah?

Food for thought and recipes by Signe Rossbach

Essay
2013

“8 Facts” about Hanukkah

David Studniberg on the Jewish Feast of Dedication

Essay
2016

“If I were a rich mouse ...”

Michal Friedlander on Mickey, Minnie and their Hanukkah message


2015

In the Sleeping Car with Ten Hand-puppets and a Travel Hanukkah Candelabrum

Shlomit Tripp on her Hanukkah with the bubales family

Essay
2015

Tu bi-Shevat Traditions in Israel

Avner Ofrath on trees, fruit, and a breath of New Age

“Clever Esther”— Not Suitable for Children?!

Shlomit Tripp reports about her child-oriented retelling of the Esther story

Across Mannheim in the Matzo-Mobile

David Studniberg about the great feeling to support others during the corona crisis

Report
Apr 2020

The Big Clean-Up

Dana Akrish on Passover in Jerusalem

Essay
Mar 2018

A yellow clay plate with traditional Passover herbs

A Kind of Family Gathering

Bitter Herbs and Their Relatives in the Diaspora Garden

Essay
2017

The Long Night of Tikkun

Mirjam Wenzel and Avner Ofrath about what we can learn from loving women

Essay
May 2013

Quite “best practice”

Tom Chai Sosnik celebrated his coming out as transgender in spring 2015 with remarkable aplomb – in a ceremony performed by Rabbi Tsipi Gabai at a Jewish school in California, supported by his family.

Essay
2017