Sukkot in Israel - a guide for first timers.
How do things work in Israel over the Sukkot holidays? What public services are open? What are my employment rights? What about public transport - is it available?
First thing to remember that in Israel, only the first and last day of Sukkot is Chag unlike in the Diaspora where two days of Chag are celebrated on either end of the festival. The intermediate days are referred to as Hol Ha'Moed and the regular festival restrictions and laws do not apply on these days of Moed (The intermediate days of Pesach are also Moed).
Your employment rights
Erev Sukkot is now a paid vacation day. The following day, the first day of Sukkot, is also a paid holiday. Jewish owned businesses and shops, in Israel, are mostly closed.
The following week, erev Simchat Torah the same laws apply. More employment rules and regulations...
If your employer has asked you to work, for some reason, you have the right to refuse based on religious observance.
If your employer has asked you to work and you have agreed, you are entitled to 50% more than your usual rate for that day.
There is no law that states that an employer is required to give you a gift for any of the holidays. Gift giving is common practice in some companies but it is at the discretion of the employer alone. Nice if they do, and a bit of a bummer if they don't.
The KolZchut website has details of all overtime rates, for all sectors and services
Shops & services
Lots of Israelis take some hofesh (vacation days) during Sukkot especially members of the Ultra Orthodox Jewish community.
On the first and last days of the festival there is generally no public transport but some cities or towns may operate limited services. Check with your local bus service, municipality or regional council for transport options that might be operating on the festival days.
Trains on the festival eve operate as per the regular Friday schedule and trains the following day will run according to the end-of-shabbat schedule.
Remember if you are traveling by train to NATBAG - Ben Gurion International Airport on Thursday night or Friday, check the Israel Rail website for updated timetables as certain stops have been canceled.
It is wise to check the English websites of the major municipalities for Sukkot parking instructions. If you are planning to be in Jerusalem, where parking will be at a premium, please check before you go for road closures, parking restrictions and similar information.
Haifa municipality offers free parking (blue & white markings) during Sukkot