A blog reader sent me the following question:
I have a question about New Year’s Eve (December 31st) in Israel.
Is it usually celebrated by the not very religious ? Or maybe Modern Orthodox ?
Is January, 1st a business-related holiday with banks and shops closed ?
And if so, how would it be this time when 10 be’Tevet will coincide with january, 1st ?
Would people still celebrate NYE the same way ?
This Thursday is Asarah be’Tevet. A mourning day in Jewish history where we fast for about 12 hours. I am going to publish the exact times for Jerusalem in a later article !
Do Israelis celebrate Sylvester (New Year’s Eve) and how about January 1 ?
The answer is that the secular population widely celebrates new year’s eve. Not everybody but especially the younger generation is organizing private parties. In Tel Aviv more than in Jerusalem. But when you are looking for a new year’s eve party or action, go to Tel Aviv where there is fireworks at the beach. However, in Jerusalem, in Tel Aviv and elsewhere, discos or pubs offer celebrations.
The Jewish religious population couldn’t care less, as the Gentile new year doesn’t play a role in Judaism. On the contrary because it is based on paganism. Thus, the fast on 10th Tevet is not standing in contradiction to January 1.
Moreover, January 1 is no day off in Israel but a regular workday. Buses are running and banks, ministries as well as shops are open. It is just a normal day !
Would Jews in New York behave the same way ? Religious Jews definitely. They won’t celebrate the Gentile new year but may keep their shops closed this Thursday due to the fast. On the other hand, secular Jews may celebrate new year but probably don’t even know about 10 Tevet.