The Jewish New Year is celebrated in the early fall, so Israelis don’t really use the term New Year for the day that marks the beginning of the secular year. Ironically, we join with Germany and many northern European and Scandinavian countries in calling the day Sylvester–after St. Sylvester.
This year, with New Year’s Eve falling on Friday night, the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath, there’ll be even less celebrating in Jerusalem than usual: no fireworks, not too many party hats–so, if it’s a lively New Year’s Eve party atmosphere you’re looking for, my advice would be to head to Tel Aviv, where the Sylvester celebrations will be in full swing.
If you do decide to stick around the Holy City, you’ll find a special dinner menu (complete with bacon and crab) at Adom in the picturesque Feingold Courtyard in the center of town as well as at the classy American Colony Hotel. Chances are good that at both places you’ll be partying with foreign diplomats and journalists who didn’t make it home for the holiday season.
If you’re looking for a more spiritual way of celebrating the New Year, Jerusalem provides all kinds of possibilities.
On Friday the 31st at 5 p.m there are thanksgiving services at the Church of the Redeemer in the Muristan section of the. Old City.
11 p.m Holy Mass at the Notre Dame, just outside the New Gate
On New Year’s Day:
9 a.m Mass at Dormition Abbey on Mt Zion
10. a.m Divine liturgy at the Greek Catholic Patriarchate near Jaffa Gate
10.a.m High Mass at the 4rd station on the Via Dolorosa (Armenian Vicarate)
5 p.m Mass at the Austrian Hospice on the Via Dolorosa in the Moslem Quarter of the Old City.
And don’t forget–even though Sylvester might be past, Christmas in the Holy Land goes on as the Armenian and Orthodox churches celebrate the holiday on January 6