Last Saturday I went to the beach with my niece. Weekends are usually too crowded, but it was a Yom Kippur fasting day, and we were planning to catch up on some reading, listening to some music (using earplugs, we’re not rude), expecting a quiet, half-empty beach, like it had always been in previous years. I was relying on the fact that when it comes to Yom Kippur, most Israelis, even the non-religious ones, become extremely god-fearing for the whole day.
But something was different that Saturday.
The Tel Aviv beaches were packed with people and we couldn’t find an empty spot to lay our beach blankets down. When we finally did find a spot, enter the ball players. Then shortly after came the Frisbee players, and let’s not forget about the Matkot players. They were playing right over our heads, creating a tiny atmosphere of hell, sprinkled with some near-death adventures. After all, it is Yom Kippur. One cannot be part of the Jewish tradition without a glimpse of fear and a touch of suffering. The players were smiling at us each time they came by to collect a stray ball – a ball that only seconds ago missed our heads by an inch. They smiled like it was cute or something. I was close to having a Larry David moment and yelling at these people. “Have some respect, it’s Yom Kippur!”
I wanted to yell, but “instead, I chose a more dignified way
to deal with the situation (mostly because my niece was so embarrassed by me), by suppressing anger and fear while imagining being shielded by an imaginary helmet. This is just the sort of behavior you can expect from a grown-up atheist.