Daily Israel Report

Minutes Before Yom Kippur, Cops Help Out Stranded Motorists

What do you do when your car breaks down minutes before Yom Kippur? In Israel, you call the cops for a "lift" home, of course!
By David Lev
First Publish: 10/9/2011, 10:14 AM

Police car (file)
Police car (file)
Flash 90

Yom Kippur in Israel is unique; everything closes down, from the radio and TV stations to the airport, and it would be unthinkable for any place of business or entertainment – even those catering to a completely secular crowd – to operate on the holiest day of the year. It's the one day of the year when even the most diehard secularists take time to get in touch with their Jewish selves.

There are many “only in Israel” stories on Yom Kippur – such as the free “road service” provided to drivers whose cars broke down on Yom Kippur eve. In at least ten cases, police gave a ride to drivers and their passengers when their vehicles broke down on the side of highways before the holiday began Friday night.

In many cases, drivers had no other way to get to their destination; many were driving to spend the fast with elderly relatives who had no way of picking them up in time before sundown, and the various road service companies, such as Shagrir (the Israeli version of the AAA) had already sent their workers home hours before Yom Kippur began. Buses had already stopped running at about 2:00 p.m. – and due to the late hour, many roads were already empty, so there was almost no possibility of getting a “tremp,” as there were no cars passing by to hitchhike with.

Out of desperation, several drivers called police to explain their dilemma, while others were “discovered” waiting by their vehicles. In all cases, police officers or workers of the National Highway Service helped drivers push their vehicles to the side of the road – where they remained locked until Saturday night, when road services and public transportation started up again. The drivers and their passengers were dropped off at their destinations – just in time for the pre-fast dinner. The charge for this service? Nothing – it was provided free, one of the “chuparim” (advantages) of living in Israel!