Silence, reflection mark Jewish atonement day Busy districts take a break for Yom Kippur.

September 19, 1991|By Jay Merwin | Jay Merwin,Evening Sun Staff

In place of the heavy traffic that normally clogs Reisterstown Road in Pikesville, only a few cars were passing, and at a country road clip.

On Park Heights Avenue in northwest Baltimore, much of the traffic was pedestrian.

Most of all, there was silence.

Even for a visitor unaware that yesterday was Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement, the silence and near-desertion of streets in northwest Baltimore and Pikesville would signal this day was different.

"It's a day of reflection. You get away from the year-round hassle," said Mark Fleischmann, 66, a retired housing appraiser. He was carrying his prayer shawl and walking to Shaarei Zion Congregation on upper Park Heights Avenue, which seems to be lined with synagogues.

As a child, Fleischmann used to walk to the synagogue with his grandmother on Park Heights Avenue south of Northern Parkway, before Jewish migrations after World War II to suburbs such as Pikesville.

Children were playing outside several of the synagogues. They can't sit still for a full day of prayer and fasting, Fleischmann said, nor could all adults, who also drift in and out between services.

"I guess not everybody has the strength to stay all day," he said. "It's a day of fasting and forgiveness of sins. It's the one day a year everybody goes to the synagogue."

That's where nearly everyone was in deserted downtown Pikesville. Fields, the bustling pharmacy and restaurant, was closed. So were most of the stores along the Pikesville strip of Reisterstown Road.

Calls at a Valley Cab stand had dwindled to "a straggler here, a straggler there," said dispatcher Mike Leone.

At Jilly's Restaurant, owner Will Reich planned to prop his door open all day so passing drivers wouldn't assume his place was closed like most of the others. He hoped to attract non-Jews whose regular lunch spots were closed for the holiday.

It was not a day for small talk. A man, walking with his family from a Park Heights side street to a synagogue, explained. "It's a quiet day. I'd like to keep it quiet."

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