Israel ushers in 2023, festivities without COVID control for the first time in three years


Israel welcomed 2023 with festivities and parties on Saturday night and early Sunday morning, the celebrations being freed from COVID-19 restrictions for the first time in three years.

Palestinians across the country, and also in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, gathered in pubs, restaurants and other public places to welcome the New Year. Others held gatherings at home or simply celebrated in private.

Both festivals were severely disturbed at the end of 2020 — when the country was under its third coronavirus lockdown — and to a lesser extent End of 2021when some restrictions had just been imposed at the beginning of what would be the country’s fifth and final lockdown (so far).

While many Israelis celebrate the arrival of the New Year, it is a much more low-key event than in the West, with local events equivalent to ball-throwing in Times Square and spectacular fireworks displays in capitals around the world. is not.

Unlike the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah, Autumn New Year’s Day is not an official Israeli holiday.

Many Israelis call New Year’s Eve “Sylvester”. The term is also used in some European countries to refer to his fourth-century Pope Sylvester I, who died on December 31st.

People take pictures with illuminated 2023 signs at the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem on December 31, 2022. (Photo by AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

Israel’s 1.7 million immigrants from the former Soviet Union and many of their descendants (tens of thousands who arrived this year in the shadow of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine) traditionally mark “Novy God” (New Year in Russian). , celebrating the days starting in December. 31 including parties and family gatherings.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who returned to power two days before the end of 2022, issued a congratulatory message. I wish all citizens of Israel a good and happy new civil year. ”

Reebob, whose group of friends gather in Rehovot each year on New Year’s Eve to celebrate the god Novi, told The Times of Israel that he had previously seen Russian President Vladimir Putin’s traditional holiday speech, but this year he will. He said he switched. On behalf of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“It’s our high school clique tradition to get together at this friend’s house, make sure there’s plenty of food and drink, watch the speech and the countdown, and then play a board game together,” he said. I got

“COVID made it difficult, but now, as before, we are unshakeable.”

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