Sep 23, 2015 | By: A Woman

Day of Atonement - Day 520

Disclaimer - this blog post is my sole perspective on the topic of the 'Day of Atonement'. It is not to offend any religion or individual beliefs.

For the Jewish religious people, the day of atonement is one of the most holy days in the year. In a nutshell, it is for those who believe that they will be atoned for the sins between them and god when fasting for 25 hours and praying at the synagogue for most of these hours.

Now, for the Israeli people who are non-religious or for those who don't practice the Jewish religion, it is a whole different story. I want to share my story or my perspective on this day.
Honestly, I feel like I have been fooled by an inherit custom from a very young age. As a child, the Day of atonement was a fun day because firstly, we didn't go to school for 2 days; there were no cars on the road and I could cycle my bike or ride my rollerblades with all my friends until the late hours of the night. Later in the years, these 2 days were almost like a party that we were all excited about - Couple of friends met together, did sleep over party and enjoyed the moment of no grownups around to stop us from being foolish.

Within that, I never ever question what is the 'Day of atonement' really is; why have we been forced to shut down the country completely, with no transportation allowed, with no radio and TV, with all the stores being closed - absolute lock down.

And I get it now - as mentioned before, I feel like I've been fooled. Fooled because - for the non-religious people, the Day of atonement is really a fun day; The kids are having fun on the streets and don't have to go to school. The grownups have the opportunity to finally see their friends because no one has any excuses of better things they must attend to, and most importantly, they get 2 paid off days from work. So why would we question the reasons why we have given our power away to lock down the entire country for 25 hours? Why would we not question the reasons why our freedom to move and express is taken away from us for 25 hours.
I mean really - we have inherently signed up for this while never really voted on it, we just accepted this as it is with no question asked.

Many people would come to me and say - can't you not respect the religious beliefs for just 25 hours. Well - it is not a question of respecting others. It is a question of human rights that were not considered properly. Let me give you an example.

As a teenager, I volunteered in the ambulance department and I used to like volunteering on the Day of Atonement because we were busy as people couldn't get to the hospitals by themselves (driving the road is simply forbidden on this day). We were driving the ambulance to deliver a baby at a woman's house because she couldn't get to the hospital. We were lucky to deliver the baby into this world safely but as you all know - home childbirth can be dangerous as in any given moment, something can get wrong that require medical professional to step in with the right tools, knowledge and practice. 
Though, what shocked me that day, and I think it was the day I started questioning this all lock down phenomena, was that on our way to the woman's house, a group of religious children, about 10 years old, throw rocks towards the ambulance for apparently voiding the day of atonement laws in driving the road. I mean really? We are driving to deliver a new being into this world and these children were throwing rocks at us. Ironically, the day of atonement, a day to ask forgiveness for the sins between men and god, and these kids learn at home or in their cultural environment that they must throw stones/rocks on driving cars as an act of enforcing the day of atonement laws on everyone. And what if they were successful in stopping us from driving the ambulance - what would have happen with the unborn child? This unborn child and his family's human rights were not considered. Also, our team's life was not considered as we were in danger of potential accident with stones thrown towards us, trying to avoid the stones while considering the safety of these group of children.

As I said before, it is not about respecting others' religious belief but to consider and honor human rights. In my experience, the amount of people getting into the hospital on these days, I would assume to be double or more than a normal day. On a medical level, there are many reasons why locking down the country doesn't make much sense not to mention the religious law of fasting for 25 hours while there is 34 degree heat outside.

The application of religious belief may compromise human rights and on some levels also dishonoring life; we are teaching our children to submit to what had come before them, without giving them the tools to actually investigate and make decisions for themselves, of who they are and what they are standing for. Locking down the country for 25 hours symbolized the locking down of the being into the mind through continuous infusion of beliefs, ideas, cultural costumes and so forth instead of sharing life skills and effective self-support tools as gifts to shape and create our lives based on Life Principles that support everyone equally. For example, the Day of atonement is a day of forgiveness. we wouldn't need such custom if we teach our children to practice SELF-forgiveness to become the potential that they can be. We can show them by example how to daily practice SELF-forgiveness and we can give them the tools to practically change their living application to one that honors and respects themselves and all men at any given moment.

So, I ask, instead of submitting to our inherit cultural customs, let's investigate what they practically mean and what value we can take from the old customs in order to align the value with the life that supports, honor and respects everyone equally.


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