There was a scarlet thread in the Bet HaMiqdash that would turn white as soon as the scapegoat was throw off of the cliff in the land of Azazel (near today's East Talpiot Promenade). This symbolized the fact that God forgave His people, based on the verse (Isa. 1, 18): 'Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.'
The Talmud (Yoma 67a) recounts that this thread was posted in different places, at different times. The reason was that if the thread did not turn white, the people would become depressed. Without going into the possible reasons for the malfunctioning of the thread two millenia ago, on this particular Yom Kippur, I fear that if we still had that scarlet thread it would not turn purely white.
A blogger whom I have never met, but whom I hold in the very highest esteem, wrote the following:
So I went to the Kol Nidre service last night with some good friends. We left after about an hour. It was so not happening. In New York, London, and anywhere else I’ve been to Yom Kippur services the places are packed to the gills because most folks go to synagogue but once a year and Yom Kippur is that once. Some places you even have to get tickets in advance. This beit-knesset was one of many big ones we’ve got here in Tel Aviv. It was absolutely not filled to the gills last night. There were far more women in the upper women’s section than there were men in the men’s section down below and there was still ample space up top. The average age (and I’m including here the infants and small children dragged along) of participants on the upper deck was about 65. If you take out the outliers of the babies, the average age jumped to about 75. There were no makzorim (prayer books with the kol nidre service stuff) available. It seems you were expected to bring your own –which the really elderly knew to do. The rest (the few) of the younger crowd mostly did not know and also don’t have ‘em to begin with and so we kind of stood and sat around. One of the girls along with us (a native Israeli) sent text messages on her phone through-out the time we were there. I was wishing I’d brought along a phone to do the same with. The cantor was uninspiring, everyone was sort of doing their own thing –a kind of private reading/mumbling of the service–it was not the Kol Nidre service of my previous experience. But, it seems, it is the typical service here because Tif had gotten us to try this synagogue after having gone to another one last year that was exactly the same and she was thinking that it had been an anomoly. It was not. Blech. No fun and definitely not inspirational.
So where was Tzohar, in all of this? Where were all of the much-vaunted Yom Kippur initiatives? How come no one spreads the word of their existence, or creates a presence in the great mausolea of Judaism that were built so large and remain so hollow? Why doesn't someone think to provide extra mahzorim?
What a wasted opportunity! If we are to rebuild a truly Jewish country here, and observance is stage two, this kind of farce must be extirpated! However, I don't blame the elderly worshippers in this (or any other) so-called "Great Synagogue." I blame myself, and those like me, who have the tools to communicate and teach, but spend their Yamim Nora'im in religious enclaves. Bli Neder, I intend to find a way to do Teshuvah for that. I urge others to do the same.
Otherwise, G-d forbid, the thread may never turn white.