Rabbis Ban New Year's Celebrations in Israel

Wednesday, December 31, 2014 |  David Lazarus

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel has declared that there can be no New Year’s celebration in the Land of Israel. The Rabbinate’s requirements state explicitly that "placing references to Gentile holidays at the end of the secular year is not allowed.” That means no New Year’s Eve for many Israelis.

New Year’s Eve in Israel is called Sylvester

The Israeli term for New Year’s Eve is “Sylvester,” the name of the Roman Pope who presided over the conversion of Constantine and reigned during the Council of Nicaea (325 AD). It was Sylvester who convinced Constantine to prohibit Jews from living in Jerusalem and instituted a host of viciously anti-Jewish requirements into Roman Christianity.

Much of Europe, like in Israel, also call New Year’s Eve “Sylvester.” For Eastern European Jews, January 1st is remembered as a day of pogroms. From early days, once the birth of Christ was set on December 25th, Christianity understood the New Year to be a symbol of the reign of Christianity, and the death of Judaism. New Year’s Day became a time for anti-Jewish activities: synagogue and book burnings, public tortures, and murder.

Anti-Semitic practices on New Year’s Eve have continued throughout history.

It was on New Year’s Day 1577 that Pope Gregory XIII decreed that all Roman Jews, under pain of death, must listen to the compulsory Catholic conversion sermon given in Rome’s synagogues after Friday night services. On New Year’s Day 1578, Gregory signed into law a tax forcing Jews to pay for the support of a “House of Conversion” to convert Jews to Christianity. On New Year’s 1581, Gregory ordered his troops to confiscate all sacred literature from the Roman Jewish community. Thousands of Jews were murdered in the campaign.

Punishment for Celebrating New Year’s Eve

This week the Chief Rabbinate published notices warning that any Israeli establishment holding a New Year’s Eve Party would be punished by the religious authorities. Although the Rabbinate does not have legal authority to prevent anyone from celebrating the New Year, they are able to impose their will on large portions of the Jewish population due to their control over Kosher certification.

"Any hotel or restaurant offering a New Years Eve celebration will have their Kosher certificate revoked,” warned the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. Similar warnings were issued to establishments not to display Christmas trees or put up New Year’s decorations.

Rabbis’ Disgust for New Year’s Activities in Israel

The rabbinic prohibition against celebrating non-Jewish holidays in Israel reflects the profound distaste religious Jews have for Christian activities in the Jewish nation. Nor is it the first time that the Chief Rabbinate had expressed concerns over Christian celebrations in Israel. It’s not even the first time in the past year.

During this year’s Feast of Tabernacles, the Chief Rabbis demanded the government prevent the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem (ICEJ) from holding a Prayer Vigil near the Old City’s Huldah Gates. In their appeal, the Rabbinate claimed that the prayer gathering would “prevent true Jewish salvation” and that the ICEJ intended to “dig their claws into the Holy City and Land and cut off our Jewish brethren from the land of the living.”

Other local rabbinic authorities have also tried to stop Christian prayers from taking place near the Temple Mount. They describe Christian prayer gatherings as “ceremonies of idol worship praying to ‘that person’ to reign over Jerusalem,” and conclude with an imprecatory prayer, “May the Name of the Wicked One Rot.” The typical way most rabbis refer to Jesus is “that person,” refusing to even mention his name.

A New Year’s Blessing

It is my hope that through the articles, news reports, teachings and comments from our faithful readers presented daily online throughout the year, and in the monthly Israel Today Magazine, that Jews and Christians alike will come to know the true person of Yeshua the Messiah, and that His name be sanctified in truth in Israel. May you all have a happy and healthy New Year!

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