The time was early in the 17th century. Jewish Hebron had been among the hardest hit by a plague that killed hundreds of people throughout the land of Israel. People fled the cities for the desert, for small villages, anywhere to escape the deadly plague. Only a few Jews had remained in Hebron on this particular Yom Kippur Eve.
The Jewish Quarter had originally been purchased by Spanish exiles and in its small domed synagogue, nine men stood ready to begin Kol Nidrei, the start of the Yom Kippur liturgy. But where was the tenth man, the worshiper who would complete the minyan, the quorum necessary to pray? The cantor began his supplication to the Heavenly Assembly which is repeated three times. As he began the third call to the “yeshiva shel maalah,” the door opened and an old man walked in wearing the traditional kittel shroud and tallit. There was a collective sigh of relief that the service could now continue.
Read the rest of this excellent emotional article by Zalmi Unsdorfer here.