Sign In Forgot Password

No to New Year's Eve Parties

12/29/2020 03:15:45 PM


No Silvester (New Year’s Eve) parties in hotels.

That was the edict from the Israeli Rabbinate when I lived in the Jewish state.

I doubt that the rule had anything to do with preserving the ethics of non-Jewish guests. After all, Judaism is primarily concerned with the behavior of Jews.

So maybe those “political rabbis” were afraid that Jews would run amok — getting drunk, doing lewd things — in celebrating the incoming secular year. If that was the case, they needn’t have worried too much. Jan. 1 was a work day, so whatever carousing was done would have had to be limited. People had to sleep enough to function — or at least appear to function — at their jobs on New Year’s day.

Or maybe the rabbis felt that the secular New Year somehow diminished the religious Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah).

Actually, the idea of celebrating the secular New Year was controversial early in the Zionist enterprise, with non-religious and religious Jewish Zionists united in attacking as inappropriate the revelry associated with the holiday. It was a foreign custom and thus verboten for the Jewish people re-established in their ancient homeland, they said.

Nonetheless, then and after the establishment of the state, such parties took place in theaters, private clubs and elsewhere.

Whatever the motivation, the Rabbinate backed its edict with a threat to remove the kashrut (keeping kosher) certificate of any hotel, a death sentence to any such business that appealed to Jewish tourists.

On a practical level, Israeli hotels were largely empty during the winter, except during the period between Christmas and New Year’s Day when Christian tourists flocked to the Jewish state. Not only did their guests miss out on the celebrations, but the revenue-hungry hotels suffered as well.

My daughters living in the Jewish state tell me that those restrictions on hotels have disappeared in 2020 Israel.

Wed, February 8 2023 17 Shevat 5783