Jerusalem Unveiled: A Spiritual Journey through the Holy City - September 2023 Edition

Plan your visit to Jerusalem with our comprehensive travel guide. Discover sacred sites, vibrant festivals, and cultural wonders in the heart of the Holy City.

a stone arch on the beach with the ocean in the background
By Daniel Goodman

Updated April 30, 2024.

a group of people holding flags in front of a castle

Welcome to Jerusalem's September 2023 instalment of our exclusive Artza series, where we warmly invite you to embark on an unforgettable journey through the hallowed city of Jerusalem.

Together, we'll explore its fabled streets, where the whispers of ancient history harmoniously blend with the vibrant rhythms of contemporary life. Our goal is to unveil the sacred sites that hold deep meaning for Christians and introduce you to Jerusalem's captivating events and festivals in store for September 2023. Prepare to dive into a profoundly enriching and spiritually elevating adventure!

Jerusalem – In Jerusalem, the rich heritage of multiple faiths intertwines gracefully, creating a unique harmony between some of the world's oldest faiths.

With September this year being the holiest month in Judaism (it coincides with the Jewish lunar calendar month), with the new year festival of Rosh Hashana and the day of atonement Yom Kippur, we couldn't miss the opportunity to provide you with a comprehensive, in-depth guide to Jerusalem for this special month.

When is Rosh Hashanah 2023?

Rosh Hashanah 2023 takes place from September 24 until sundown on September 26.

What is Rosh Hashana, and how is it celebrated:

Rosh Hashanah, often called the "Jewish New Year" or "Festival of Trumpets", is one of the Jewish calendar's most significant and sacred holidays.

Rosh Hashana marks the beginning of the High Holy Days and occurs on the first and second days of the Jewish month of Tishrei, which usually falls in September or October. Rosh Hashanah includes various customs and traditions that we will discuss.

The Day of Judgment: Rosh Hashanah is believed to be the day when God reviews the deeds of every individual and determines their fate for the upcoming year. It serves as a time of introspection and accountability for one's actions.

Repentance (Teshuvah): Rosh Hashanah initiates ten days, known as the Ten Days of Repentance, concluding with Yom Kippur. During this time, Jewish people engage in introspection, seeking forgiveness for their sins and resolving to improve in the coming year.

When is Yom Kippur 2023?

Yom Kippur in 2023 will begin at sunset on September 22 and conclude at nightfall on September 23.

What is Yom Kipper, and how is it celebrated:

Yom Kippur, often called the "Day of Atonement," is one of the calendar's most solemn and significant Jewish holidays. It occurs on the 10th day of the Jewish month of Tishrei, typically in September or October. Yom Kippur holds profound religious and cultural significance and is observed through various customs and traditions.

Fasting and Prayer: Yom Kippur is marked by a 25-hour fast, during which Jews abstain from food, drink, and other physical comforts. The fast serves as a means of self-affliction and focuses on spiritual rather than physical needs.

Repentance (Teshuvah): Similar to Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur emphasizes repentance, or "Teshuvah." Jewish people reflect on their actions over the past year, seek forgiveness from God, and make sincere resolutions to improve their behaviour in the coming year.

Visit the Holy City of Jerusalem: September 2023 offers a unique opportunity for Christians to explore the rich spiritual heritage of Jerusalem.

For all embarking on a journey to Israel, the enchanting city of Jerusalem, and more specifically, the historic Old City, beckons with an irresistible allure throughout the month of September. This is a time when the city dons its most vibrant colours, and its ancient streets hum with a palpable energy, particularly during the High Holidays.

The Western Wall: Known as The Wailing Wall or "Kotel", is a sacred prayer site for Jewish people. The wall is the only remaining structure of the Temple of Jerusalem retaining walls - the holiest site in ancient Judaism. Through the duration of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, it is an incredible experience just walking through the cobbled streets of Jerusalem and witnessing people ascend to or from the Western Wall dressed in white.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre: Located in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. According to many traditions, it is believed by many to contain the two most sacred sites in Christianity, where Jesus was crucified (Golgotha) and Jesus's empty tomb.

Mahane Yehuda Market: Mahane Yehuda Market, commonly known as "The Shuk," transforms into a captivating hub of activity during the year, especially throughout the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in Jerusalem. These special times of the year infuse an additional layer of excitement and tradition into the bustling market.

The market's stalls overflow with abundant fresh produce, including apples, pomegranates, and honey, all symbolically significant for the holiday.

  • Apples dipped in honey represent the hope for a sweet new year.
  • Pomegranates symbolize abundance and prosperity.
  • Honey is a symbol of sweetness, and its consumption on Rosh Hashanah represents hope and prayer for a sweet and joyous year ahead.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, follows closely after Rosh Hashanah, and preparations at Mahane Yehuda Market take a more sombre tone. As Yom Kippur is a day of fasting and reflection, shoppers rush to stock up on essential supplies before the holiday begins. The meal after Yom Kippur traditionally centred around foods that provide sustenance throughout the day of fasting, including bread, dairy products, and nourishing dishes.

Enchanting September 2023 Events in Jerusalem:

  1. The annual Jerusalem International Chamber Music Festival will be held in Jerusalem, Israel, from September 5-9, 2023.
  2. The Jewish prayers of Selichot – a collection of penitential passages and psalms – are said in the days leading up to the High Holidays. At the Western Wall in Jerusalem after nightfall, you can witness the performance of Selichot on September 9, 2023, until Yom Kippur on September 24, 2023
  3. Night Spectacular: Experience a captivating journey through Jerusalem's rich history with the Night Spectacular, an innovative Sound and Light show set against the backdrop of the Tower of David and ancient ruins. Using cutting-edge laser projection, this show vividly brings to life the city's millennia-spanning tale, from the reigns of kings and queens to battles, holy sites, and the vibrant cultures that have thrived in this iconic city.

We hope you enjoyed our list of Jerusalem must-see sights for September 2023; however, we can happily say there is so much more to see. Here are some more of our Jerusalem's recommendations - What to Do in Jerusalem: Must-See Sights

We invite you to join us in our next instalment, where we'll explore more Christian sites and experiences in other captivating locations across the Holy Land.

And for those who want a fully immersive experience of the land where Jesus walked, our Artza subscription box is designed to do just that. Delivered quarterly, each locally sourced Artza box is packed with up to eight stunning handcrafted gifts, local foods, spices, art, scripture, ceramics, and so much more - each carefully chosen from the local artisans and charities of that specific region - with the aim of bringing the Holy Land to life in the most meaningful and immersive way possible.

Artza - Delivered from the Holy Land directly to your home.