Israelis crowded into synagogues Sunday to celebrate the start of the Jewish New Year 5746, which coincides with the end of Shimon Peres’ first 12 months as head of a fractious coalition government.
Rosh Hashanah, New Year’s Day on the Jewish calendar, is the beginning of a 10-day period of introspection and resolution that ends with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Businesses will be closed today and Tuesday. Worshipers will be called to repent the past year’s sins by the blast of a ram’s horn.
With the recent increase in Palestinian terror attacks, police cautioned worshipers to be especially watchful. At least 13 Israelis have been killed since Jan. 1 in and around the occupied territories. Thousands of police will be on duty.
For hundreds of Ethiopian Jews, Sunday was a bitter Jewish New Year in their new land as they refused to end an 11-day protest against Orthodox rabbis’ demands that they undergo ritual conversion to Judaism before marrying.
The black Jews maintained a vigil outside the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem despite appeals from religious leaders.
The Ethiopians have demanded that the Chief Rabbinate live up to an agreement reached last month with Peres to set up a committee of rabbis and black Jews to deal with the conversion issue.
Dozens of the newcomers have delayed their weddings and refused to undergo the purification immersions demanded of Jews whose parentage is in doubt.
The Ethiopians declare that they are already fully Jews and descendants of the biblical tribe of Dan. About 8,000 were flown to Israel in a secret airlift last year.