So I promised pictures at the end of my last post. But alas, I have none. Just stories. And proof that, yes, in fact, everything except Soroka Hospiial shuts down for Yom Kippur.
Erev Yom Kippur we went for a walk. It was beautiful. The evening had started by going to dinner at another classmate’s apartment, and then walking over to a synagogue we had heard was good. It wasn’t my style, so I went outside and ended up doing a little meditation of my own. When the service finished up, we went our separate ways until it got a bit later. Around 10pm, we made our way to Rager Street, the three lane highway that runs straight down the middle of Be’ersheva. We live right near the emergency entrance to the hospital, so when we started out there were cars and ambulances going in and out, infrequently but enough to notice. As we wandered further down Rager, though there were fewer and fewer cars and more and more people, on foot, bikes or other form of wheel. We cartwheeled in the middle of the south bound lane and took pictures as we went to pick up some more friends.
I was feeling pretty quiet, just enjoying the people and the cool air (very cool for the negev), but it was definitely the most festive I have ever been on Yom Kippur. There were small groups of kids on bikes, finally safe from the cars that usually pay little attention to them, as well as families walking their dogs. I have talked to other friends about what they did that evening, and it seems the mood around the city was pretty consistent. Some people went biking themselves, and said that they were probably the oldest people on wheels. Some neighborhoods were much busier than others, with entire families out playing, while others were pretty empty.
A few of us had planned to have a breakfast at the end of the holiday (for those who don’t know, there is traditionally a fast on Yom Kippur for 25 hours, with a break the fast at the end). We invited people who we knew were fasting, and mentioned it casually to others. However, with all that was going on, I neglected to follow up with many people. The following is an example of one of my favorite things about MSIH so far. I’m not sure if it’s because the program is so small or because it attracts a certain kind of incredibly self-sufficient person, but the dinner turned out to be lovely, as people called or stopped by of their own intiative with a dish to contribute.
As demonstrated, the MSIH student body is a more collaborative group than I have ever been part of. The group of us, for the most part, is in class together for 6-8 hours a day, and then are also each other’s main resource for social events and learning about Be’ersheva. There is a stream of emails and phone calls asking for and offering support that looks something like this:
Is anyone cabbing to the airport on Thursday? I have a flight in the evening around 7.
Organized a yoga class every Tuesday and wanted to get a count of people interested…
I have a car for the day! Four seats available for a good shopping trip if anyone needs.
There is a concern for your classmates’ well-being and success, a conscious effort on the part of individuals to make the collective experience here a good one. With that said, we are all on our separate ways (more or less) for Sukkot vacation. Ten days, and how many countries? After spending some time in the empty streets of Be’ersheva I’m excited to wander around Crete for a bit! - blogger of the month Ariella Krones