Jewish Journal

An Easy Fast and an Easy Carmageddon

by Rabbi Mark Diamond

September 25, 2012 | 10:17 am

“The great shofar is sounded; a still small voice is heard.”  
                                                                                        Yom Kippur prayer


Jews in Los Angeles mark three holy days this week—the daylong Yom Kippur observance AND the two-day Carmageddon experience.  The clock is ticking as we anticipate the sequel to Carmageddon—the second shattering of the Mulholland Bridge over I-405. The liturgy of Yom Kippur bids us to heed the still, small voice of the Divine presence.  We yearn for a still, small voice to comfort and calm us as we tremble in fear and awe of the Day of Judgment and Carmageddon.  To that end, I am pleased to share my personal survival guide for this weekend:

Ten Carmageddon Commandments Take 2

1. Eat a Shabbat meal on Friday evening with friends and family. If it goes well, repeat the process on Shabbat afternoon. If it goes really well, share a Sukkot meal with family and friends Sunday evening.

2. Read a good book. I prefer the old-fashioned hard or soft-cover variety. If you must, read your book on a Kindle or iPad.

3. Walk. My wife and I take a walk every Saturday afternoon, and it’s a highlight of our Shabbat experience.

4. Meet your neighbors. They may be nice people. If you already know your neighbors, you’re part of a privileged minority in southern California.

5. Appreciate the outdoors. There is abundant natural beauty in Los Angeles, so get out there and enjoy it. This is best done on foot or bicycle, NOT in your automobile.

6. Rest. Take a nap. Robert Fulghum famously noted, ““Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.” Sans milk and cookies and a blankie, I try to take a nap on Shabbat, and I commend the practice to you.

7. Support retail businesses in your neighborhood. All this talk of “get the ___ out of town” strikes me as unpatriotic, un-American, and un-civic-minded.

8. Turn off your radio, television, computer, iPad, Blackberry, and/or iPhone whenever Carmageddon is mentioned. This may require turning them off the entire weekend, which is not a bad idea anyway. In fact, that’s what Shabbat is supposed to be—an island in time free of the noise and clutter of intrusive technology.

9. Laugh. Everyone outside Los Angeles is laughing at us right now, so we should laugh at ourselves as well.

10. Chill. It’s only a freeway closure, not a terminal illness, natural disaster, or the end of the world. Remember the wisdom of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, who taught:

Kol ha’olam kulo gesher tsar me’od
Ve-ha’ikar lo lefached k'lal.

“The whole world is a very narrow bridge.
The most important thing is not to live in fear.”

I enjoyed Carmageddon 1 so much that I can’t wait for Carmageddon 2. Can we please do it again next year?

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Rabbi Mark Diamond is Executive Vice President of The Board of Rabbis of Southern California.  In that position, he directs a multi-denominational organization of 330 rabbis,...

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