JERUSALEM, Israel – Israel kicked off Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, Monday evening.
Rosh Hashana – literally meaning “Head of the Year” – is a time of celebration and contemplation for secular and religious Jews alike. It also marks the beginning of the Jewish High Holy days. Over the next few weeks, Jews will also mark the fast day of Yom Kippur and the week-long Sukkot festival.
The holiday season is traditionally marked with family gatherings and synagogue services.
This year, the Israeli government is urging families to avoid large gatherings and said synagogue prayers should be limited to small groups of vaccinated people.
Last year, the holiday season led to a surge in coronavirus infections that resulted in a full nationwide lockdown.
Israel has already begun administering booster shots of the vaccine, a campaign Prime Minister Naftali Bennett hopes will help control COVID cases during the Jewish holidays.
For Jerusalem resident Efraim Wolff, the holidays are a special time even with concerns about the virus.
“We are trying to manage the best we can, and every year is a special year of its own, so we are trying to do the best, of course, we are looking forward to it,” he told AP.