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Israel welcomes the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, with green passport for entry to synagogues, but no additional COVID restrictions

Central Bureau of Statistics releases annual data as the year comes to an end

Israeli pre-schoolers learn about customs of Rosh Hashanah at Moshav Yashresh, Sept. 5, 2021. (Photo: Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of a new year according to the traditional Jewish calendar. The name literally means “Head of the Year” in Hebrew and the holiday is observed on the first two days of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar.

This year, Rosh Hashanah begins Monday evening at sunset. Across Israel, stores, schools and businesses will shut down for two days, and families will celebrate with a festive meal and various traditions such as eating apples dipped in honey – symbolic for a "sweet year" – and blowing the shofar, a trumpet-like instrument made from a ram’s horn.

In the Torah, Rosh Hashanah is called Yom Teru’ah, or the Feast of Trumpets, and comes as an ordinance to proclaim God as King of the universe, celebrating His creation of humankind, as well as the unique relationship that exists between humans and God the Creator.

The sound of the shofar is a call to repentance – a wake-up call, if you will, to re-examine one’s commitment to God and to correct course. This same theme is carried forward the next 10 days, known as the “Ten Days of Repentance” or “Days of Awe,” which ends with Yom Kippur, the “Day of Atonement.”

While the Ministry of Health has urged Israelis to get tested for COVID before Rosh Hashanah, Israel will celebrate Rosh Hashanah without any additional restrictions, despite an increase in the number of daily cases. However, indoor prayers will require a “Green Passport” for 50 people or more.

"If there are extended meals with children under 12 who are not vaccinated together with grandparents, I ask that you carry out self-tests," Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said at Sunday's Cabinet meeting.

Children under 12, who are not yet eligible for a green passport, must have a valid negative COVID test, "and if not, the children must not come," Bennett said.

"Children are very infectious and are easily infected," he added.

In Jerusalem, the Western Wall in the Old City will be divided into 15 capsules, with a cap of 8,000 people allowed to pray at one time.

The Central Bureau of Statistics released its yearly report, “Israel in Figures – Rosh Hashanah Selected Annual Data 2021” which states that Israel’s population exceeds 9.3 million, having increased by 146,000 people from the year before – a rise of 1.6%. 

Israel’s population consists of approximately 6.9 million Jews (roughly 74% of the population), more than 1.9 million Arabs who account for 21%; and another 466,000 people of other ethnicities, representing 5% of the population.

In the past year, Israel recorded 172,000 new births and registered around 22,000 new citizens, including 20,000 new immigrants.

In the past year, there were 48,000 deaths in Israel, including approximately 5,800 from the coronavirus during the 11.5-month period since last Rosh Hashanah.

Israel’s life expectancy is 80.7 years for men and 84.8 years for women.

Israel’s 6.9 million Jews account for 45.3% of world Jewry, according to research compiled by Prof. Sergio Della Pergola of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The Jewish Agency reports there are 8.2 million Jews living outside of Israel, most of whom reside in the U.S., which has about 6 million Jews.

Aside from Israel and the U.S., the countries with the largest number of Jews are France (446,000), Canada (393,000), Britain (292,000), Argentina (175,000), Russia (150,000), Germany (118,000) and Australia (118,000).

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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