Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv, a moment before Kol Nidrei. More than 1,000 people have gathered to pray with the "Rosh Yehudi" congregation. Rabbi Asaf Tabachnik, who leads the congregation, spoke several words to the massive and highly diverse crowd:
"There is a famous story about a chasid who suddenly stopped coming to his rebbe during the holidays after doing so for many years.
He explained it like this: 'All year long, I behave like a chasid even though I feel completely cut off. Now suddenly for the holidays I should behave like a real chasid who visits his rebbe even though it's just a disguise?' The rebbe answered: 'On the contrary. All year long you are in disguise; it's not the real you. When you come to us for the holidays - you are real! It's true, most of the year you feel distant. But it's not a question of appearances; it's about your essence. When you are here for the holidays, it's the real you.'
Now look at us here in Dizengoff Square. We are from every background and sector of society. We have filled a central meeting place in Tel Aviv in order to pray together on this holy day. All year long we hear about controversy, about extremists, about alienation, yet it is now clear that the entire year we are in disguise. Yom Kippur exposes who we really are - better and closer to each other than it often seems. It is forbidden for us to confuse appearance and essence. Yom Kippur reminds us who we really are, and how we can really be the rest of the days of the year.
And then we chanted Kol Nidrei. Shana tova.