Sep 30, 2022
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An international tech hub, a non-stop party city, and a coastal resort come to most people’s minds when they think about Tel Aviv. Now, Israel’s main metropolis is offering an alternative High Holiday experience for Jewish tourists looking to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot …Tel Aviv style.

That’s because Tel Aviv will offer alternative religious programs for less-affiliated Jews, specifically American Jews, during the upcoming High Holiday season. 

“The American market is usually the biggest market for Tel Aviv,” said Merav Uziel-Refetov, Tel Aviv’s tourism campaign manager.

According to Uziel-Refetov, over 30% of Tel Aviv’s tourists are American. However, the coastal city usually experiences a downward trend in US tourism during the High Holiday season.

Since most Americans are not orthodox, the Tel Aviv municipality is reaching out to those visiting Israel.   

That’s why this Rosh Hashanah, the coastal metropolis, will offer several High Holiday-related events with a twist that only Tel Aviv trendsetters could conjure up. 

‘Yay it’s Tishrei’ is Tel Aviv’s latest campaign designed to attract Jewish Americans during the High Holiday season. Tishrei is the first month of the Jewish calendar and is the period when High Holidays such as Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot take place. The city’s list of events includes selichot at the Tel Aviv Port, tashlich at Gordon Beach, and Shacharit (morning prayers), followed by meditation at the Pisgah Park in Yaffo.

An ad for Tel Aviv’s ‘Yay it’s Tishrei’ campaign (courtesy)

“Tel Aviv can offer a great alternative for Jews ranging from Reform to modern-orthodox,” Uziel-Refetov said. She adds that all types of Jews can now celebrate the High Holidays while enjoying religious flexibility without diminishing the holiday spirit.

As part of the campaign, Tel Aviv’s Beit Tefillah Israeli and the Daniel Centers will host egalitarian events that begin on the eve of Rosh Hashana and run through Simchat Torah

“The Prayers and Jewish services are suitable for all streams of Judaism,” Uziel-Refetov noted.

Other holiday events include tours of Tel Aviv’s old synagogues throughout the city including the city’s iconic Great Synagogue, built in 1926. Selichot tours and spiritually uplifting yoga classes on the beach will also be part of the holiday season’s itinereary. Visitors can enjoy scenic tours of the Sorona Market and The Independence Trail – a journey through the city’s proud history that begins with the founding of Tel Aviv in 1909 and ends with the Establishment of Israel in 1948.

The campaign features virtual ads aimed at merging ancient tradition with Tel Aviv’s beach/nightlife culture. One ad features the ‘four species,’ an expression used to describe the four crops mentioned in Leviticus 23 that Jews pray with on the Sukkot holiday. But instead of a palm, etrog, willow, and leafy branches, the image features four cocktails, each a different color. And while the Tashlich ceremony traditionally involves throwing bread into lakes and rivers, the ‘Yay it’s Tishrei’ ad features a woman throwing a frisbee into the Meditteranean Sea. 

Hollywood actress Claire Danes once called Tel Aviv “the most intense party town I’ve ever been to.” The ‘Yay it’s Tishrei’ campaign could signify that the city is also branching out to become a spiritual alternative to Jerusalem as well.

Go here to see the full list of events.