Today is Yom Ha'atzmaut! Certainly a day to celebrate. A day to contemplate. And in Brooklyn, a day to move your car. It may be a holiday, but you still have to move your car or risk getting a parking ticket.

Let me explain for all you who have not dealt with New York City's remarkable parking regulations. The City has regulations that dictate when you cannot park your car in many places, due to street cleaning needs. There are signs attached to poles, that indicate which days and times your car cannot be parked in certain places. On some streets it may be just one day and a window of 1 1/2 hours--for instance, on my block you cannot park on the east side on Wednesdays from 9:30AM to 11AM. But in some areas you have two days a week of no parking. For instance, in 2006 I worked at a school in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope, where on one side of the street Mondays and Thursdays are no good and then the other side is verboten on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Complicated, yes. Annoying, absolutely. And it generates money for the city, because if you park in the wrong place you risk receiving a parking ticket (and perhaps even getting your car towed away).

But what does this have to do with Yom Ha'atzmaut, you ask? Well, this morning I went to shul for the morning minyan. I was the 9th adult at the Bet Midrash this morning, at the East Midwood Jewish Center, the largest Conservative synagogue in Brooklyn. I was parked on the "bad" side: according to the parking sign, from 8:30AM to 10AM I would be in violation of parking regulations. But I couldn't find a good spot. I assumed that our service would end at 8:29AM and then I would dash out to move my car.

But I learned today that there is a haftorah portion read on this holiday! That's nice. And I volunteered to read it cold. I did a pretty decent job, making about a dozen minor mistakes in pronunciation and trup (but I always corrected). And when I completed my task, I glanced at my wristwatch and saw that it was 8:33AM.

Thus I dashed to my seat, grabbed my car keys, and sped outside to move my car or if I had to, plead with a traffic cop. Fortunately I had not been ticketed and there was no ticket agent nearby! Splendid. I entered my car and drove across the street, closer to the shul, into a very tight but legal parking spot.

New York City suspends its alternate side parking regulations for many different holidays-- religious (Jewish, Christian, Muslim), cultural and ethnic (Asian New Year, Columbus Day, etc.) and secular, patriotic holidays (4th of July, Thanksgiving, others). But Yom Ha'atzmaut does not garner an exemption for parking. Oh well. Enjoy the day! And move your car.

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