The outdoor services in Israel were a tremendous success bringing neighbors together more than ever before.
One of the most iconic sights of Tel Aviv, Dizengoff Square with its famous fountain, was turned into an open air synagogue with a large crowd of mostly young people clearly enjoying the services which concluded with the singing of Hativkah.
Secular Israelis, including those on the skate boards and bicycles that have become an Israeli Yom Kippur tradition, shared the tapestry in harmony.
Such was the experience across the country.
One corner of the park across the street from me, for example, had services with the children of the participants enjoying the playground equipment together with their secular neighbors.
Our liturgy is enriched with many references to nature and praying outside with the birds chirping and changing sky (including a beautiful moon) also enriched the experience.
At the end of the fast, the shofar was blown on many of the streets of the country for those who remained at home.
Yes. Yom Kippur of 5781 will be a positive page in the living Bible we in Israel have the privilege to participate in.
What could become that new page?
And it came to pass in the 72nd year of the sovereign Jewish State of Israel, that a plague struck the world and did not pass over the Children of Israel.
And so it was that on the 15th of Nissan that the Children of Israel were instructed to remain each in their own individual homes and not celebrate the Seder night with their extended families as they did from generation to generation (when not separated by evil persecutors)..
And the Children of Israel were distressed. And so it was that on the Seder night that an appointed time the Children of Israel stood by their open windows, porches and doorsteps and joined as one man in singing Ma Nishtanah. And the Children of Israel found solace hearing their neighbors as one Nation with one heart, joining together in song.
And it came to pass that the plague continued to Tishrei. And the plague prevented many of the Children of Israel from hearing the call of the shofar, as commanded, in their houses of worship. And the Children of Israel were distressed. And so it came to pass that at an appointed time the shofar call was heard in every street so that the Children of Israel could fulfill the commandment to hear the shofar call. And the Children of Israel found solace hearing the call of the shofar as one Nation with one heart.
And it came to pass that the plague continued and even strengthened in the month of Tishrei so that on the 10th of Tishrei the Children of Israel were unable to pray according to their particular traditions at each of their own houses of prayer on the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur, as they did from generation to generation. And the Children of Israel were distressed.
And the Children of Israel prayed with their immediate neighbors as one man, according to an improvised common tradition. And the Children of Israel found solace joining with their immediate neighbors in prayer as one Nation with one heart.
Dr. Aaron Lerner is editor of IMRA - Independent Media Review and Analysis, since 1992 providing news and analysis on the Middle East with a focus on Arab-Israeli relations. Website: www.imra.org.il