Jewish Holidays In Israel
The Jewish holidays are very different in Israel then it is back home in New York. Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Hanukah are the holidays I have experienced since being here in Israel, and from the experience I have had back home and here, the two differ greatly!
Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Hanukah
On Rosh Hashana, all stores and restaurants closed down for the most part. Back home everything stays open and life goes on as usual. Some Jews will go to temple, much like people here do, but life for the most part goes on as normal. For the last few years I have been at school during Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur and I still had to attend classes like usual, and some of my professors even had exams on these days. On Yom Kippur here, I couldn't believe my eyes! All day the roads were completely empty! There wasn't one car in sight! I saw kids playing in the middle of main roads like it was their playground and I heard from friends who live near the highway, that the highway was used basically as a playground as well. I couldn't believe it. It was soooo different then back at home. But once the holiday ended, you could hear and see the cars and commotion back on, out in the streets. It went from ghost town to busy city once again. At home, I've never really acknowledged Sukkot. So having everyone acknowledging it and learning a little bit about the history of it in Ulpan (hebrew class), was definitely interesting. Hanukah was also different here, from what I saw anyway. Back home we light the candles every night, like they do here of course, but at home there are also gifts every night for eight nights. From what I saw and heard from talking to people, they don't really do the gift aspect like we are used to in the States. I am not sure of the reasoning for that though. I also experienced in the squares around the city there would be rabbis hosting the candle lighting ceremonies and dancing and celebrating. It was very nice to watch.
Passover is coming up in a couple of weeks and I am not sure what to expect at all, so I am looking forward to seeing what the differences are once I experience it. I have read, however, that here in Israel, they don't have a seder on the first two nights of Passover, but instead, only on the first night. Whereas back home, we normally have a seder on the first two nights. I'll let you guys know my experiences with this holiday in a few weeks!