Menu JTA Search

Israelis to Observe Rosh Hashana in an Atmosphere of Austerity

Jews in Israel made last minute preparations today for observance of the Jewish New Year — which starts tomorrow night — in an atmosphere marred slightly by the country’s economic squeeze which is affecting most families.

Less luxury products are being bought this year and more and more hotels have announced last minute cancellations for the holiday period. Even synagogue services, normally booked long in advance, this year still have seats available. Most of such seats are for special services in hotels priced at seven to $12 each.

Seats also are available for Reform congregational services which are being held for the first time in the huge B’nai B’rith hall in Tel Aviv, as well as in Jerusalem, Haifa, Nahariya, the upper Nazareth and the Tel Aviv vicinity.

Despite the new economic situation, the annual mass movement of Israelis from one corner of Israel to another is expected. Bus companies have mobilized a special fleet of almost 2, 000 vehicles to carry the human tide. Special trains also are being scheduled for last minute departures. Police officials have made special arrangements to handle High Holy day crowds. These include special police units in the Negev to handle traffic and to provide first aid when necessary.

Lydda Airport was ready for a last minute rush of overseas visitors. Planes will be landing every few minutes. At Haifa, the S/S Shalom, with 450 American tourists, is scheduled to arrive tomorrow, along with other tourist ships. Among those arriving for the holidays is West German Ambassador Rolf Pauls, who is due tomorrow from West Germany where he has been on home leave for the past three weeks.

Although shops reported selling less imported liquor and far fewer luxury items than in previous years, the post offices were flooded with New Year cards and presents, which increasingly have become a tradition in Israel.

Special arrangements also have been made for the armed forces. In camps and bases services will be held and festive meals provided. Israel will in effect suspend operations for three days because Rosh Hashana this year falls on Thursday and Friday. For many Israelis, the event offers an opportunity for three days of rest before the country again tackles its problems, principally the economic one.

NEXT STORY