Holidays in Israel are a beautiful thing, the whole country comes together to celebrate, and having the cultural richness that Israel has, traditions are very strong and unique. For internationals living or visiting Israel, it is quite common to be somehow lost on what the holiday commemorates, what to do or where to celebrate. This section of our website pretends to guide you through Jewish, Israeli and Christian holidays in Israel.
Rosh HaShana (usually September) is essentially the Jewish new year, “Rosh” means beginning and “Shana” means year. In the Jewish world, in this day families gather to have a traditional dinner (Seder) where they bless different foods with specific meanings. In Israel in particular, aside from the religious and family traditions, there are some of the best parties of the year! Read more.
Yom Kippur (usually September) is the holiest day of the Jewish year, in this day, Jews from all over the world fast for 26 hours and spend almost the hole day praying and meditating about the actions they’ve made the previous year, it is a day of forgiveness and introspection. In Israel it is one of the only days of the year where every business is closed, the cities are practically deserted. Read more.
Sukkot (usually October) is a widely celebrated festivity in Israel that commemorates the 40 years Jews spent living in temporary shelters in the desert after they left Egypt. People take pride in building and decorating their Sukkah and host cool events. If you are spending Sukkot in Israel, expect to find many cool festivals and parties! Read more.
Simchat Torah (usually October) is one of the most joyful celebrations in the Jewish calendar. It is the holiday that honors the ending of the annual cycle of reading the Torah and the beginning of the new one. It happens right after Sukkot (the day after it ends). Most of the celebration happens inside the synagogues, where people dance and sing with the Torah. Read more.
Hanukkah (usually December) is one of the most beautiful Jewish holidays, it commemorates the win of the Maccabees against the Greeks’ impositions. It lasts for 8 days and every day a new candle of a Menorah is lit, it’s especially beautiful in Israel, where anywhere you are, when it’s time to light a candle everyone comes together to sing and light the candles. Read more.
Christmas (December 24th) is one of the most important Christian holidays, when the birth of Jesus is celebrated. Israel being the birthplace of Jesus (Bethlehem) is a great place for Christian tourists to come and celebrate. In Tel Aviv the place where you are most likely to find the Christmas spirit is Jaffa. Read more.
New Year (or how Israelis call it, Silvester) (January 1st) in Israel is not a national holiday like the rest of the world, it doesn’t mean there are no crazy parties and big events, it just means you will probably have to work the next day. In Tel Aviv in particular, you will find big parties in most bars and clubs and some other cool events. Read more.
Purim (usually February/ March) is a Jewish Holiday that celebrates the salvation of the Jewish people from being destroyed. Celebrations include dressing up and “drinking until you can tell wrong from right”, which makes it some of the craziest parties in Israel! Although Purim only lasts one day, expect to see people dressed up in the streets all week long. Read more.
Easter (usually April) is the most religious and spiritual holiday in the Christian calendar (yes, even more than Christmas!). It commemorates Jesus’s crucifixion and his resurrection. Where better to celebrate Easter than Israel, where it all happened. Jerusalem is the center of all the celebrations, but there are also beautiful events in Tel Aviv. Read more.
Pesach (also known as Passover) (usualy March/April) is a 7 day holiday (8 if you are not in Israel) that commemorates the Jews leaving the slavery in Pharaoh’s Egypt. There are many traditions including traditional Seder, and in honor of the Jews leaving in a hurry, instead of eating bread or any leavened foods during Pesach, we eat an unleavened bread called Matzah. Read more.
Yom HaShoa (usually April) is the Holocaust Remembrance Day, this is a mourning day all around the world where we remember the 6 million Jews that where killed and all the ones that weren’t killed but their lives where still taken away from them. In Israel it is a day when all businesses are closed and there is a siren for two minutes where everything stops and people stand and remember in silence.
Yom HaZikaron (usually April) is the day we commemorate those who have fallen for our country, both soldiers and in terrorist attacks. As Yom HaShoa, it is a national mourning day, which means all shops, bars and restaurants are closed, so remember to take your precautions, there is also a siren for two minutes where everything stops and people stand and remember in silence.
Yom HaAtzmaut (usually April) is Israel’s independence day, it is one day after Yom HaZikaron so the contrast between the two days is very unique. It is one of the happiest and craziest days of the year, so get ready for the biggest parties! The streets are full of people and music and there are loads of massive events and concerts. Read more.
Shavuot (usually May) is a Holiday that commemorates one of the most important events in Jewish history – when the Torah was given to us at Mount Sinai. Shavuot means “weeks”, this is not a coincidence, since the Holiday marks the seventh week of the counting period since Pesach. In this days, in Shavuot we celebrate the “re-acceptance” of the Torah. Read more.
Jerusalem Day (usually May) is a national holiday that commemorates the independence of the city of Jerusalem. Most of the celebrating happens in Jerusalem, usually, the Ministry of Culture and other organizations plan huge events, including concerts by some os Israel’s top artists and crazy parties that last all night. Read more.