Rosh Hashana 5781

This year in Jerusalem, Rosh Hashana was not like in previous years. As with most of the world, the Jewish New Year was spent alone at home or in small gatherings rather than in crowded synagogues and overflow services. 

At the Kotel, the Western Wall, the usual huge crowds were missing.

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Sections were divided into small prayer groups before Rosh Hashana for late-night Selihot.

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Those smaller groups filled some of the plaza areas this year.

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And then at night after Rosh Hashana, even those small groups were gone.

Such a sorry sight, at a time usually filled with tourists and visitors. 

The Jerusalem Great Synagogue was empty for the first time in its history.

The green spaces of Jerusalem, all of its parks, were called into use.

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These signs were posted wishing park visitors’ good health and a good year.

Jerusalem Gazelle Valley opening day

A special announcement was made that the Gazelle Park would be open during the lockdown, with everyone required to wear a mask.

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Hope they turned off the water sprinklers on the holiday for Gan Sacher, Sacher Park. Extra bins for holiday trash were available. 

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The ads for juice near Gan Sacher had a happy holiday greeting.

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Almonds were ripe on the tree and falling to the ground. Only they were so hard I could not crack the ones I brought home with a hammer.

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Machane Yehuda Market, the shuk, was busy the week before the impending holiday shutdown. Shoppers were rushing to stock up with food and supplies. Supermarkets were filled to overflowing capacity. 

Display of unusual fruits for Rosh Hashana in shuk, Mahane Yehuda market

Fresh new fruits for the second night of Rosh Hashana are especially popular this time of year.

pomegrante seeds

A long time favorite, yummy pomegranate pie for the holiday. 

Family of beekeeper at Beit Hanasi before the New Year.

No little bees photo ops this year, and a very much smaller reception for beekeepers was held at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence. 

Tzipi Hotovely taking a photo of the food at Beit Hanasi

No big New Year event for foreign diplomats at Beit Hanasi as in the past.

Photo credit: Mark Neyman GPO

This year President Rivlin hosted a socially distanced private reception for diplomats who were seated apart and all wearing masks.

The Selihot in the Beit Hanasi Synagogue was an annual event during Rivlin’s tenure. This was the last chance as his 7-year term is up in July.

However, this year due to religious service size restrictions these will not be held during this three-week lockdown period.

For a lockdown, this new Jerusalem project in the Schneller Compound is the place to live, to enjoy parks and open spaces. It is a magazine perfect neighborhood.

From Jerusalem this past week, all eyes were watching the signing of treaties with UAE and Bahrain. Only later I noticed on the left side for Israelis, a man in the front rows got up to take a photo on his phone, as the US side sat politely.

The Old City Walls that night were illuminated with flags of Israel, the US, UAE, and Bahrain in honor of the historic occasion.

Already numerous interactions have taken place. The webinar on health and technology I listened to is worthy of sharing with you soon, it was so impressive what they have done in Abu Dhabi in the last few years.

Photo credit: Shifra

However, also on the Jerusalem streets near the Prime Minister’s Residence, the protests continue. Though there was a supposed lockdown, a large table was set for 120 people, with no distancing, no masks, and lots of noise for Rosh Hashana on the first night. Protests in democratic Israel are legal.

Sorry, but I find their behavior UNEXCEPTIBLE.

New security cameras are being installed in the area, and new security is reinforcing the regular police and border police who have had to deal with these loud mob scenes week after week.

Sweet New Year poster for Rosh Hashanah

But for now, hoping all have a sweet and healthy year.

President Reuven Rivlin gave New Year greetings in English this year.

Next year in Jerusalem!

Meanwhile, preparing for Sukkot holiday to start October 2, 2020,

We spotted the first sukka of the season!

10 thoughts on “Rosh Hashana 5781

  • September 21, 2020 at 10:13 am

    Dear Sharon,
    I really enjoy reading your posts. You put so much effort into RJS. Yasher Koach.

    Wishing you and your family a shnat bracha!
    Karen and Mendy Rosenfeld

    • September 21, 2020 at 10:16 am

      Thank you Karen so wonderful to hear from you. Healthy and happy year for you and yours!

  • September 21, 2020 at 12:40 pm

    a note from Ruth Bader Ginsberg on demonstrations…
    “I would say that we are not experiencing the best of times, but there’s hope in seeing how the public is responding to it.
    The Woman’s March…I’ve never seen such a demonstration…both the numbers and response of the people in that crowd. There was no violence…it was orderly. We are not experiencing the best of times. There is reason to hope that we will see a better day”
    Maybe the protesters in Israel will think on her words…g’mar hatima tova, Sharon…with ongoing thanks for all you do for us…hannah

    • September 21, 2020 at 1:33 pm

      Thanks, Hannah! Yes, trying times, of course, many are upset and distressed. The tourism industry and all those related to it, from large hotels to small vendors, tour guides, and cleaners are without work. The situation of a few incoming tourists has been for months, with no end in sight. Frustration is high, but I felt that dinner on Rosh Hashana was over the top. It was loud and crowded and violated many of the current regulations, plus not in the spirit of the Jewish holiday season.

  • September 22, 2020 at 3:42 am


    Once again, your terrific photos make me feel like I am living the picture.

    G’mar Tov


    • September 22, 2020 at 4:35 am

      Thank you Gary. Gmar Hatima tova!

  • September 22, 2020 at 7:59 am

    HiSharon, Gmar chatima tova. Thank you for using my photo of the protest dinner!Made me feel good that it got publicity!
    Love your blog. Keep it up . love from Binyamin adn Shifra

    • September 22, 2020 at 8:10 am

      Thank you for sharing your photos. I honestly feel the demonstrations have lost meaning are an affront to democracy and decency and a danger to society. They show no limit to common sense and respect for law or order. Hopefully, at least for Yom Kippur they will show restraint and stay home.

  • September 24, 2020 at 6:21 am

    As always your RJS posts are interesting, informative and enjoyable.
    I hope that Rosh Hashanah went well for you and your family despite the restrictions.
    I wish you and your family Gmar Chatima Tova and Shabbat Shalom

    • September 24, 2020 at 6:54 am

      Thank you, Ruth, Your comments are always a pleasure to receive. Very different holiday celebrations than in the past, but we are managing. Gmar Hatima Tova to you and your family!


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