This Yom Kippur will be like no other we have ever observed… writes Michael Kuttner.

Instead of Synagogues and other venues overflowing with worshippers, street corners, balconies, gardens and parks will host smaller groups on this, the holiest day in the Jewish religious calendar. In an effort to stem the rising tide of corona infections, Israel is being locked down tight. Whether this will work is debatable especially as the long suffering public witness politicians’ dysfunctional behaviour.

Life, however, must somehow carry on and in the midst of this mayhem there are still positive stories to report.

SAVING ENDANGERED SPECIES 

With the virus raging it sometimes feels as though human beings are an endangered species. However, there are animals which are on the very edge of extinction. The Yotvata Hai Bar Nature Reserve in the Negev is working day and night to save and increase numbers of rare animals.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzVb7MoFYRE

THE SEASON OF RETURN 

Among the main themes of this Holy Day season is the concept of tshuva, repentance and return. We are taught that it is never too late to atone for our past and current misdeeds and return to a path which is more in tune with the moral codes of life as set out in the Torah and commentaries.

Returning can also take the form of physical distancing from one’s existing environment and moving to a place which will offer a higher quality of Jewish life.

The two following videos clearly exemplify these concepts.

The first deals with returning from a long lost exile to the Promised Land. Our Prophets made it clear that eventually remnants of the long lost tribes will reclaim their heritage and return to the land of their ancestors. We are privileged to see this happening before our very eyes. Miracles are happening in ways unimaginable not so long ago.

The second video is the inspiring story of a young man whose early life was a train wreck and who could easily have become one of life’s recurring tragedies.

His battle with the help of many people to rehabilitate himself is the perfect topic for Yom Kippur as we also try to do tshuva and serve as an example for others.

May we all be inscribed and sealed for a healthy and positive year.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqKMrn6LhqU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gytTNa5njKM

Michael Kuttner is a Jewish New Zealander who for many years was actively involved with various communal organisations connected to Judaism and Israel. He now lives in Israel. 

[This article was originally published on J-Wire and is reproduced here with permission from Michael Kuttner.]