Israel Locks Down Again, Conflicting with Holidays

  • Israel chose to begin lockdown at an awkward time the afternoon before the New Year
  • Israel is the first country in the world to make a second complete lockdown
  • Jacob Litzman the Minister of Housing resigned in opposition to making the lockdown at this time

The Israeli government has chosen to begin its lockdown a few hours before the Jewish New Year, called Rosh Hashanah, will be celebrated. The lockdown will continue for three weeks, extending into the holiday of Yom Kippur and Sukkot. The lockdown will begin at 2:00 in the afternoon.

Jacob Litzman the Minister of Housing resigned in opposition to the government making their lockdown at holiday time.

The religious segment of the Israeli population are angry at the Ministry of Health and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for starting the lockdown exactly at the time of the holiday season, which will interfere with religious services and celebrations which Jewish people consider sacred.

There will be no bus transportation after the two day holiday of Rosh Hashanah for people who are celebrating the holidays away from their homes to return home on Monday evening.

The Ministry of Health has placed limits on the amounts of people permitted to gather in Synagogues, which will not be sufficient for everyone to participate together, a great blow to Jewish religious unity.

On Rosh Hashanah, the prayers are lengthy, sometimes over three hours. It will be almost impossible for everyone to stand in the hot sun and pray outdoors, as has been the custom during the Coronavirus Pandemic. Larger crowds are allowed to gather outdoors, but these numbers are still insufficient.

The Coronavirus Pandemic has almost destroyed the joy of the coming Jewish holidays. The Israeli government is not recognizing the value of prayer.

Yaakov Litzman, the former Minister of Health and a Chassidic Jew, resigned as Minister of Housing in the new unified government resigned in objection to the decision of the Ministry of Health to reimpose the lockdown at the time of the holiday season. He threatened to resign before the lockdown was made official, and resigned, leaving the Netanyahu government an empty space.

His reason for resigning is that the government of Israel is destroying the joy of the holidays and not recognizing the importance of the prayers and the blowing of the shofar. The Shofar, the ram’s horn, is blown on Rosh Hashanah as symbol of the desire of Israel and the world for freedom from war and suffering.

Breslov Chassidic Jews are stranded in Belarus on the way to pray at the grave of Rebbe Nachman in Uman Ukraine.

Each year, besides celebrations of Rosh Hashanah in all the Jewish congregations throughout the world, there is a pilgrimage of Breslov Chassidim to the grave of their departed teacher, Rabbi Nachman, in the city of Uman, Ukraine. Before his death, Rabbi Nachman encouraged his followers to come to his grave on Rosh Hashanah, and he promises them that their prayers for all their wishes will be received.

During the Communist regime, the borders of then-Soviet Ukraine were closed, and the Chassidim of Rabbi Nachman could not make their pilgrimage to Uman on Rosh Hashanah.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, when the borders were opened, the custom of praying at the grave of Rabbi Nachman was restored, and each year, more and more Jews travel to Uman to make their Rosh Hashanah.

In the last few years, there were more than 30,000 Jews in Uman on Rosh Hashanah. This year, because of the Coronavirus pandemic, Ukraine and Israel both agreed to limit the amount of people that would pray in Uman. There are now about 5,000 people in Uman who arrived before all plane flights were cancelled.

There are also now over 2,500 Jews stranded in Belarus at the border of Ukraine. Efforts are being made by Aryeh Deri of the religious party, Shas, to convince the government of Ukraine to allow them to go to Uman.  Time is running out, and already food supplies have been finished. The people are sleeping in the fields.

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David Wexelman

Author of 5 books on the internet on topics of Jewish mysticism, managing two websites. www.progressivejewishspirituality.net
http://www.worldunitypeace.org

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