Happy New Year, Israel!

Although the rest of the world seems to keep track of time via the Gregorian calendar--not so in Israel.  The Jewish New Year is actually celebrated during Rosh HaShanah, which most often occurs in September. Jewish Israelis are more concerned with the lunar Jewish calendar than with the Gregorian one. Some Israelis celebrate New Year’s Eve on December 31st, but often feel as if it is someone else’s party and not theirs.

There will be parties found in Tel Aviv, where the social life is vibrant, but Jerusalem will be relatively quiet.  This past Summer when I stayed a few days at the Dan Panorama Hotel in Tel Aviv, I walked to the main part of town where there was a lot of night life. I was actually looking for a swing dance so I could cross it off of my “bucket list.” I found out that the swing dance in Tel Aviv doesn’t even start until 10 p.m.!  As I walked to the dance, there were people everywhere inside and outside hanging out and having fun. As quoted in the Washington Post, Chen Michaeli, Hotel Manager of the Dan Panorama Hotel in Tel Aviv says this about New Year's Eve: “We open a champagne bottle in the lobby at midnight, but that is all. We don’t see this as a holiday that our religion relates to. We don’t (consider) it right to mark it."

In America, we will reflect on accomplishments in 2013 as they are marked in history. In Israel, here’s a recap of 2013:

  • Benjamin Netanyahu completed his eighth year as prime minister
  • Segregation on buses and gender equality were top news stories
  • Israel achieved many scientific breakthroughs
  • Prime Minister Netanyahu asked the rest of the world to take action against Iran’s nuclear program
  • High-tech businesses reached new heights
  • Unemployment was at its lowest point in decades
  • Many two-income families experienced poverty rates
  • E-commerce sales increased with 85% of Israeli credit card holders making online purchases

What are Israeli’s concerns for 2014?

  • Israelis living on border towns are concerned about rocket fire (Lebanon has increased rocket attacks in the past week)
  • Israelis hope for peace but in reality are not expecting it
  • Residents in Israel are concerned about the threats from Iran to wipe them out, but most don’t believe it will ever happen
  • Israelis hope that American support will not waiver

As an American ringing in the new year tonight, please say a prayer for Israel. Pray for the salvation of many in that land. Pray for the Christian congregations--that they will remain safe, will not be targeted for terrorism--that they will be strengthened so they can share their faith in Messiah with others.

Song For Israel  wishes you a very Happy New Year!