The Jewish New Year is called ‘Rosh Hashanah’. This means the head of the year; i.e.; the beginning, and is a two day holiday. The Jewish New Year is fast approaching, and Israel will be welcoming in the New Year. Unlike New Years on January 1st, the New Year celebration in Jewish tradition, is more focused on family time, food, and going to services in the Synagogue. Rosh Hashanah in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is very unique and can be a highly spiritual experience. Here is the rundown of Rosh Hashanah in Tel Aviv and what to do.
Should travelers find themselves in Israel over Rosh Hashanah, they might be surprised to find that the country observes the holiday like Shabbat / Saturday. There will be no public transportation at all. This is including buses and trains, but should travelers need to get around, there will be taxis running. Museums, restaurants and other excursions might be closed over the holiday as well as other attractions. Planning ahead of time will enhance your trip in Israel over Rosh Hashanah.
What to do in Tel Aviv on Rosh Hashanah:
Jerusalem is more observant than Tel Aviv in general. So if travelers are looking to be able to go about their day trips like regular, there will be more restaurants and activities open in Tel Aviv, rather than Jerusalem. But you will still be able to feel the festive atmosphere in Tel Aviv. A great way to get a feel of this Jewish holiday is by visiting a synagogue close to you. If you find yourself walking around in the morning (10 am – 11 am) you are bound to hear the blowing of a ram’s horn (called a Shofar) outside of synagogues. The blowing of the Shofar is symbolic of recognizing God’s sovereignty. This is to serve as a reminder to look inward and be conscious of how you want to be better in the coming year.
There are a few traditions that are practiced in celebrating Rosh Hashanah. Should you find yourself in Israel over Rosh Hashanah, here are some great ways of joining the festive atmosphere!
One theme of the Jewish New Year sweetness to symbolize the prayer of a sweet new year ahead. Apples being dipped in honey is synonymous with the Jewish New Year. You will find in most shops and outdoor markets you may go to will be selling it. It is also a great way to get a taste of Rosh Hashanah.
Additionally, honey cake and medjool dates will be available by the dozen, as well as sweet round loaves of Challah. The circular shape of the traditional Jewish bread is symbolic to the circle of life. One way to feel the excitement of the upcoming holiday is by going to Carmel Market the morning before Rosh Hashanah starts. You are guaranteed to feel the festivity in preparation for the evening to come.
Day trips from Tel Aviv; Rosh Hashanah:
Although some museums will remain open over the Jewish New Year, most malls, shopping centers and restaurants will be closed. So these two days are a great time to explore the beautiful natural sites that Israel has.
The Dead Sea:
Even though in September and October the weather is cooling down in Jerusalem, you will find that the Dead Sea will be as warm as the mid-summer months. Rosh Hashanah in Israel will mean less traffic as the country grinds to a halt. This is a great time to explore the places that are a little bit further without encountering Israel’s notorious traffic. Because it’s a holiday, there will be no public transportation. Anywhere travelers will wish to go over the holiday will have to be via private vehicle. Soak in the mineral infused water, and slather the healing mud to have a relaxing day at the famous Dead Sea.
Over Rosh Hashanah, Israel is a lot slower then normal. This makes it a great time to venture out and explore the city of Bethlehem which will run like normal. Transportation to Bethlehem will have to be via a private vehicle, as Israeli taxis cannot enter Bethlehem. Explore the birthplace of Jesus, and the significant locations of Christianity in this Historical city. You will find that restaurants and souvenir shops will be running like normal and over the Jewish New Year. It is a great time to get out and explore the cities that are further away from Tel Aviv.
Explore the most beautiful region in Israel; the Galilee. Situated in the north of the country, this area has the Sea of Galilee. Apart from its impressive beauty, the Sea of Gailee holds significance to Christianity and the History of Jesus. With endless trails for hiking and biking, this northern region is a must see. Additionally, what better time to explore the countryside of Israel than on a holiday when most things are shut? Take a swim in the sea of Galilee and hike up one of the many mountains in this region and you are sure to have a day to remember. Want to spend more than a day in this beautiful countryside? Consider staying in a zimmer over the two day holiday to have more time to explore the history and beauty in this region.
Rosh Hashanah in The Old City of Jerusalem:
The atmosphere in the Old City of Jerusalem will be transformed over the Jewish New Year. Should travelers wish to be immersed in the holiday, there is no better place to feel the tangible holiness of the day than by The Western Wall. The Wall will be significantly more busy over the holidays with observant Jewish people going to pray and sing. You will also be guaranteed to witness the blowing of the ram’s horn, and feel the awesomeness of this holiday. When visiting the Western Wall, take the time to explore the rest of the Old City.
To summarize there are endless fun activities from Tel Aviv for Rosh Hashanah. Whether you are looking for a religious or fun experience, there is something to do. Activities and day trips from Tel Aviv may take a little bit more planning and preparation then normal. But the extra time and effort to plan it, will pay off. Happy traveling!