Israelis prepare to celebrate holiest days of year under lockdown

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Merav Atetgi, 44, a teacher from Nitzan, a small community near the southern end of Israel’s Mediterranean coast, took two of her five sons to a beach before the new restrictions took effect.

“It’s a suffocating feeling,” she said of the impending lockdown, “but there is no choice.

A young couple, Gur Lavi, 24, and Orian Mazar, 23, who live in different towns in central Israel, went to Jerusalem for a day together before spending at least the next three weeks apart, stuck in the homes of their families.

Mamilla, an open-air mall near Jerusalem’s Old City, was normally teeming with foreign tourists. But the gift shops and exclusive boutiques were almost deserted in the days leading up to the start of the holidays.

Yet a few Israelis were still shopping for holiday clothes. A popular chain of clothing stores still advertised “back to school” offers.

Shimi Elimelekh, manager of one of the chain’s stores, said: “Unlike Passover, when everyone was sitting in their pajamas, this time people want to dress even for their own family, to feel the festival.”

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