In the Holy Land for Rosh Hashana

Filed in Judaism by on 02/09/2013 0 Comments
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The Sound of the Shofar: In the Holy Land for Rosh Hashana

Young man blowing Shofar

(Photo: Chadica, CC BY 2.0)

The two highest holy days on the Jewish calendar, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur fall in the month of Tishrei in September/October. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is not a day for reveling, partying and carnivals but, is a very serious day, approached with awe as it is the day of Divine Judgment. When the shofar  (ram’s horn) sounds during the morning services in the synagogues (unless it falls on the Sabbath when the shofar is not blown), Jews rise and stand in silence, trembling, knowing that at that moment they are being judged – all ask the question who will be written in the book of life for the coming year.

In fact, the commandment to hear the shofar blowing is so strong that it is sounded on two consecutive days, except on the Sabbath, and many Jews who do not attend synagogue services all year make an effort to come on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Most Israeli synagogues are orthodox, but a few are conservative or reform. Keep in mind that there is no public transportation on Shabbat or Jewish holidays, so book into a hotel or short term rental near the synagogue you want to attend for the High Holidays.

Israel’s Synagogues

Israel has no lack of beautiful synagogues, but as they are crowded over the High Holidays, you may have to reserve a seat or buy a ticket in advance. No one is ever turned away, but you may have to stand if you do not make an advance reservation.

Jerusalem Synagogues

Stained Glass Window at the Great Synagogue

Stained Glass Window at the Great Synagogue (Photo: Steve Slep, CC BY 2.0)

The Jerusalem Great Synagogue has beautiful stained glass windows, a magnificent chandelier and has a world famous cantor chazzan and choir. The Great Synagogue is conveniently located near the city center on 56 King George Street, which is walking distance from the main downtown area and nearby hotels. You must go in advance to their office to reserve a seat for the High Holidays. For further information email: jgs@zahav.net.il or phone: +972-2-623-0628.

The Old City has some beautiful and historical synagogues. The Ramban Synagogue founded by Nachmanides after he was expelled from Spain is one of the oldest and still in use. It is located on 4 Amatzia Street, email: admin@ramban.org.il or phone: 052-862-2321. Read more on Old City Synagogues such as the beautiful old Sephardic synagogues, the rebuilt and re-dedicated Hurva Synagogue at the entrance to the Jewish Quarter, and the Ohel Yitzchak Synagogue which is closest to the Temple Mount.

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv also has no lack of fine synagogues.

The Tel Aviv International Synagogue, Congregation Beth El is located at Frishman 23 (just off of Ben Yehuda), is modern orthodox tzohar and open to everyone. Obtain a full schedule of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services by emailing: rabbiariel@metzion.org or phone: 052-782-6091.

The Great Synagogue of Tel Aviv is at 110 Allenby just east of the Shalom Tower has beautiful stained glass windows modeled after European synagogues destroyed in the Holocaust.

Haifa

Haifa Central Synagogue

Haifa Central Synagogue (Photo: צילום:ד”ר אבישי טייכר, CC BY 2.5)

Haifa has more than 200 synagogues. Haifa’s Central Synagogue is a magnificent building located on Harav Herzog Street. At the entrance are pillars and arches, and carved in stone are the Ten Commandments surrounded by two lions. The Holy Ark, the aron kodesh, is very beautiful. There are also drawings of Eliyahu Hanavi, a seven-branched menorah, and the 12 tribes of Israel.

Netanya

Netanya also has more than 200 synagogues. Learn more about this inviting sea side city and the Netanya Synagogues.

Galilee

Safed’s  historical and ancient synagogues are found mainly in the old Jewish and Artists QuartersTiberias also has many old historical synagogues and fascinating places and attractions to visit including the Kinneret or Sea of Galilee.

Did You Know?

Many hotels have a synagogue right on the premises and/or are walking distance to a synagogue.

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