Alternative Rosh HaShana in Israel

Rosh HaShana, the Hebrew New Year is being celebrated throughout the Jewish World today. In the Diaspora, for example in the US, where I was born and raised, Rosh HaShana means going to synagogue. Even those Jews who are not religious, will identify with their religion on this holiday, by going to the synagogue.

But here in Israel, where the majority of Jews are secular, it is only the religious who go to synagogue. The rest of the Jewish population celebrates the beginning of the new year (according to the lunar calendar), by taking the day off and celebrating with family and friends.

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Last night with family and friends, we enjoyed a vegetarian gourmet feast, prepared pot-luck by each one of us. Today, I have been spending the day resting and recuperating from the last few weeks of intense construction work at the new Voices of Eden center.

In the afternoon I went for a walk to keep myself in shape after last night’s eating frenzy (think Thanksgiving or Christmas family meal, then multiply it by 10!). In the park, I was tickled to find adults playing on the children’s swing sets. You can watch them here:

Now, as I am writing this, it occurs to me that these people were very well finding their own creative ways for working off last nights festive meal!

One young man speaks with his friend (in Hebrew) as he swings to and fro, while behind him, two middle aged Russian women, gab, as they swing back and forth on another kind of swing.

As I type this entry, in the background, I can hear the Muezzin, calling the faithful to prayer from the mosque tower in the local Moslem village across the way. Today also marks the end of the Ramadan monthly fast, and several days of celebration begin.

I think I am pretty lucky to live in such a diverse place, where the new year and the Divine are being called in at the same time in so many different languages and faiths. This is harmony to my eyes and ears.

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