With the #newnormal, many young foreigners are faced with making Rosh Hashana for the first time this year in Israel. Whether you are a seasoned pro or a newbie, here are some tips and hacks for the surviving the Holiest Days of the Year in the Holiest City!
- Be aware that you live in a Jewish country! The fact that Israel is a Jewish state is one of the most beautiful reasons to make Yom Tov here. Seeing throngs of moms buying apples, watching men walk to shul with shofars, and hearing the emotional soul-wrenching cries from a nearby shul cannot be experienced anywhere else. Although it is beautiful to watch so many people buying honey, be aware that EVERYONE needs to buy honey. And apples. And lettuce. Because so many people are buying the same popular items, stores tend to run out close to the chag. Be prepared and buy as many items as you can in advance. Don’t be afraid to be organized and buy things early- flashback to the memorable year when all stores in the entire Jerusalem ran out of lettuce!
- Become a Member of Your Shul. You may have davened in your neighborhood shul since you first arrived in Israel ten months ago, but come the Yomim Nora’im and members get a hefty discount when purchasing seats. This year, with the limited number of seats available, members will come first. You don’t want to shell out more than your entire annual budget on a seat for Rosh Hashana. Become a member, support your shul, and buy a ticket early while they are still available!
- Find Out About Women’s Shofar Blowing. Many women are not able to make it to shul on Rosh Hashana and there are hordes of talented shofar blowing men that will blow Shofar in the afternoon. Find out where the blowings are in your area so that you don’t miss out!
- Don’t Underestimate the Length of Davening. While in your hometown, davening may have started at 9 am and ended by 1 pm, in Israel many minyanim take a long time! Be aware that by the time the men come home from Shul and you finish your meal, it will probably be mincha time. This is for sure the case if you are hosting guests! It can be a nasty shock when you are about to serve dessert and your entire table needs to run out to Mincha so be aware of approximated start and end times of davening.
- Find a Buddy. Whether you are making Yom Tov for the first time this year, or you need to stay home from shul to watch your cuties, find a buddy! It can be very daunting to do the whole season alone (remember, men, are at shul most of the day!) Find a friend/ neighbor/ stranger who is in the same stage as you are and stick with them! Plan menus together, go shopping or take your kids to the park in the morning. Whatever it is, do it with someone else!
- Be Grateful! Spending the most powerful and holy days of the year in the holiest place on earth is not something to take for granted. Whether you can make it to shul or not, appreciate that you have a special opportunity this year that may not come by again!