In the area of Cleveland where Menachem Hecht used to live, two Modern Orthodox synagogues are located right next to each other. The rabbi of one synagogue ruled that people who don’t intend to move to Israel must observe two days of Yom Tov (religious holiday), even when they are spending the holiday there. The other rabbi allows his congregants to keep just one day when they are in Israel.
"I follow the rabbi who said it’s okay to keep just one day," laughed Hecht, 27, who now lives in New York and this week arrived in Jerusalem to spend Passover here. "There are a couple of serious reasons why I chose to go with the more lenient position," he added, explaining that a while ago he invested in a piece of property in Israel and that he plans to move here in the "near" but still undetermined future.
Hecht is not alone. An increasing number of Modern Orthodox Jews in the Diaspora seek – and receive – their rabbis’ permission to observe just one day, even without contemplating immigration. "There has been a big shift," said Hecht, who teaches at the Frisch High School in New Jersey. "When I studied in a yeshiva in Israel, some ten years ago, all my American friends kept two days. Nowadays, most of the Modern Orthodox kids I teach only observe one day when they’re in Israel. The one-day phenomenon has definitely taken root."