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Rabbis Say New Year’s Eve Parties Are a No No

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Knesset member Shulamit Aloni of the Citizens Rights Movement demanded Tuesday that the body discuss how Orthodox authorities forced hotels here and in Haifa to cancel their New Year’s Eve parties by threatening to revoke their kashrut licenses.

Aloni, in introducing an agenda motion on the issue, quoted news reports that the Rabbinical Councils in Haifa and Jerusalem had warned hotels which had been advertising the parties marking New Year’s Eve–known in Israel as ” Sylvester, ” — that holding such festivities would cause them to lose their kashrut certificates.

The Orthodox authorities maintained that New Year’s is not an Israeli holiday. Rabbi Yisrael Lau, the liberal-minded Orthodox Chief Rabbi of Netanya, said that while he did not object to the celebration of the civilian New Year in Israel, he opposed calling the event after Saint Sylvester. This, he said, would mean Jews are honoring a fourth century Pope who had made many anti-Semitic statements and who died December 31.

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