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‘What a country!’

Last week, FZY’s Movement Team got in touch with the wonderful Noah Efron—previously a member of our partner movement in USA (Young Judaea) and now a professor at Israel’s Bar Ilan University—about sharing a little of his incredible Promised Podcast via The Young Zionist, our ideological journal/blog/vlog that we share on Facebook.

Please enjoy Noah Efron & his Promised Podcast musings on what makes Tel Aviv such a special, and distinctly Jewish, city. The transcript - below - looks and reads like glorious and gorgeous poetry...



Fighting here to the studio, uh dodging the buses

and the trucks and the cars, things were like

they always are but yesterday and the night

before on Yom Kippur when the buses and the

trucks and cars stopped and the streets are taken

over by people congregating or walking or riding

bikes or scooters. Everything was different and

here are few of the things that I saw:

Someone took out a

bunch of garden chairs and set them up in a

semi circle right in the middle of the street and

then, when I came back a few minutes later, they

were filled with people each holding a beer

arguing loudly, already about politics.

On Nordau, I saw

sitting in the middle of the street two little

kids, brothers I think, one maybe two years old and

the other three. They're very little kids and

each of them holding in each hand

toy trucks.

And they're rolling them up and down on the pavement, while

saying something like vroom vroom vroom vroom vroom,

as their parents at on the bench in the middle of

the boulevard watching them. They were playing

cars on the black top of the street itself and

they were apoplecticly happy about having their

cars right in the middle of the street.

Now on

the corner of Ibn Gvirol and Jabotinsky, after

Kol nidre,

there was a circle of maybe a hundred or

a hundred and fifty people singing songs into the

night in that intersection.

Just up the block

from us, also on Nordau,

the folks who had just

finished building a duplex on the roof of a

building renovated to be earthquake proof on

Tuesday night - the night of Kol Nidre - and they had a

cocktail party on the roof and there were folks

leaning over the rail with drinks looking down at

the huge crowds below and talking and laughing.

On Dizengoff, I saw a 10 year-old crash his skateboard

at a pretty high speed into the curb and go

tumbling off, rolling into the middle of the

street and then, as everyone gasped, as they


00:01:45,460 --> 00:01:47,360

were silenced for a moment in the street... He

laughs and he grabs his board and he skates away.

On Yarkon. A herd of kids on bikes. Maybe

there are 40 of them. I think they were a class


00:01:54,600 --> 00:01:56,740

of kids. Maybe, like third graders, or fourth

graders and they stop then one of them yelled out

hey 'where is Gal?' and they all stopped to look

around and try to figure out where their

classmate had gotten lost. And I saw maybe two

dozen times someone on the Street, throw

themselves around the neck of someone coming the

other way, saying oh my Gd, it's been so long

since I've seen you and stopping to talk now.

Everyone knows that Yom Kippur in Tel Aviv

is something unlike anything else in that on this

day of pollution levels go down by 99 percent and

that you can hear the songs of birds on that day

that cannot be heard on any other day of the year

and that it is the most festive and magical day

of the year on the streets of the city. It's been

often observed that there is a great contrast

between what happens on the two thousand

streets of the city of Tel Aviv and what happens

in the 500 synagogues of the city. The

synagogues, it is said, are gripped by solemnity, and

the streets by life, gaiety which is right of

course, but it's also completely wrong. Tumbling

out into the thronging streets after Kol Nidre,

I felt again how the celebration outside was

somehow a continuation, not an interruption of

the introspection inside and I rolled this around

my mind all day and I spoke to some people about

it and I thought about how Heschel had said that

he had as I've already mentioned, on the show...

He marched, he prayed with his feet, but that's not it

really. That's too pretty a thought and the

people in the streets are not at all praying:

It's disrespectful to what they're doing to call

it that. And so I came to this which is also

wrong. But maybe it's closer.

What we were doing

in both places in the Synagogue and the Street

was that we were narrowing. We were making

ourselves smaller. In the synagogue, we made a

world briefly in which there's no eating and

drinking or work. Nothing against ourselves

and each other and maybe God. In the Street we

made the world briefly in which there is no 'far

away'; There is only here and there are no buses

and cars to take us elsewhere and there's no

noise except for ourselves and the noises that we

make. And in both places,

making things in ourselves narrower smaller, less

able, you feel around you this great rising up of

life itself. The kind of surging of spirit... a

surging of sociability and an emanation of

human energy itself. In the power of leaving your

chavura (Jewish study group) after Kol Nidre to see kids tumbling and

babies pushing cars through the streets and

crowds singing in intersections is that you feel

like that thing that you're struggling to reach

when you're wearing your Tallit (prayer shawl) that connection,

that depth, that meaning... it's everywhere

everywhere, everywhere when you look outside in the

sacred community, that is Tel Aviv - Jaffa.


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