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    New Year’s Eve – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Are Jews permitted to celebrate New Year’s Eve?

    A. It is difficult to ascertain whether or not there is any halachic problem with celebrating 1 January as New Year’s Day. It is simply not certain what made this day into a festival. If it is linked to 25 December (according to some, being the 8th day it was Jesus’ b’rit milah), it is certainly of religious origins and not relevant for Judaism.

    The ruling of Rav Moshe Feinstein is, “If a holiday is based on religious belief, such celebrations are prohibited to Jewish people”. He adds, “The first day of the non-Jewish year, 1 January, and American Thanksgiving are not prohibited according to halachah because today they no longer have any religious significance, but those who are particular should be strict in respect of them” (Igrot Moshe, Even HaEzer 2:13).

    It must be added that the halachah is far from happy with the hedonism and over-indulgence in eating and drinking which are common on New Year’s Eve.

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