The media in Israel tends to treat Rosh Hashana as a long weekend, and this year, with the New Year festival falling adjacent to Shabbat, observant Israelis who will not have turned on the radio or television for three days straight are likely to hear all about how many people had picnics in national parks over the long weekend when they turn on their televisions on Saturday night, Sept. 27, after the Shabbat following the festival has concluded.
But in truth, far more Israelis will be in synagogue than at the park over those three days, according to the chairman of the Association of Synagogues in Israel, Eliezer Sheffer. In an interview with Arutz Sheva on how synagogues were preparing for the “High Holiday rush,” Sheffer said that a total of 1.5 million worshippers will attend services at 10,500 synagogues, managed by over 30,000 gabbaim (managers of the synagogues).
Those numbers are higher than they have been in years, said Sheffer. As a result of the kidnapping of three Israeli teens and the subsequent Operation Protective Edge, there has been an awakening among Israelis, bringing many of them back to the syngoguge. “Israel demonstrated unity over the summer, and that feeling is continuing on,” he said.
The situation is similar to that which occurred some 50 years ago, in the year before the Six Day War, when Sheffer said there was a huge increase in the number of people attending synagogue on the High Holy Days. Sheffer further urged those responsible for synagogue to ensure that all those who to attend are made to feel welcome.