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An open to letter to Israel about New Years Eve

by Ryan Torok

December 31, 2013 | 11:06 am

"Esser, tesha, shmone, shèva, shesh..."

Dear Israel,

It has come to my attention that you have ambivalent and, even, hostile feelings toward celebrating New Years Eve. Apparently, the Jewish calendar is more important to you than the secular calendar and so Rosh Hashanah means more to you than NYE.

That Rosh Hashanah holds the preeminent place in your heart for marking the New Year is all well and good. But that you aren't gung-ho about NYE is surprising, given your country's reputation for being a place that knows how to party. I saw, first-hand, your knack for throwing a memorable bash back in 2004, when I was an 18-year-old college kid with a Jew-fro attending a Taglit Birthright Israel Mega Event. Ah, (blurry) memories.

For whatever reason, we Jews in America have a long tradition of caring about NYE. We care too much, maybe, but, still, no one can tell us we don't try to make NYE as fun and memorable as possible. Sometimes, Hashem smiles upon us and we find ourselves in the throes of a great night, in the arms of someone we love when the clock strikes midnight. Other times, we are not so lucky, and we are at Norm's on Pico boulevard drunkenly yelling at the waitress that we want old-fashioned maple syrup, not blueberry. Norm's, by the way, is pretty, pretty good--so, if you are ever in the neighborhood, for business, or pleasure, put it on the list.

The point is, I am uncomfortable with your discomfort. I think of you, Israel, as modern, secular and, well, western. When I read that, save for the nightclubs in Tel Aviv and the occasional hotel lounge champagne popping here and there, Israel does not make a big deal out of NYE, it makes all the people who tell me Israel is not as open minded as I think it is seem correct.

Perhaps I am making too big a thing of this. You don't get excited about NYE...so what, right? WRONG. There is no reason why throngs of people should not be shoulder-to-shoulder in Tel Aviv port, counting down to midnight on Dec. 31 like we do every year in New York City's Times Square and on the Vegas Strip. Even Los Angeles is doing it this year, apparently.

Imagine it, a countdown-to-NYE televised broadcast from Tel Aviv that airs on cable channels across the world. You want good publicity? Get Israel's biggest pop stars to perform on the show, and have a giant disco ball to drop, with a magen david glowing in neon on it, to drop from the sky. I am not kidding. Netanyahu should get Israel's Ministry of Culture and Sport on this venture, like, ASAP.

And I'll tell you what: You do this, and we will draw on our connections in Hollywood to provide you with a host for the show. Anybody you want. Although, if I may, I would like to nominate somebody: Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He is, after all, the Tribe's version of Dick Clark.

Bring Gordon-Levitt into the mix, and you'll forget you ever had any reservations.

Your friend,

Ryan

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