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Israeli Jews walking to synagogue at the start of the Jewish New Year Friday evening had to focus their eyes on the ground instead of the heavens.

Piles of garbage still blocked sidewalks all over the country, a day after a municipal workers strike was settled. Despite working around the clock, the workers, who won a wage increase, were unable to clear all the streets.

Even so, Israelis seemed more optimistic about their future than they were a year ago.

According to a poll in the Yediot Ahronot daily, nine out of 10 Israelis feel good about living in Israel today, up from eight out of 10 two years ago. The poll, by the local Dahaf agency, questioned 501 Israelis and quoted a 4.5 percent margin of error.

For Jews worldwide, the New Year, or Rosh Hashana, marks the solemn beginning of a 10-day period of prayer and reflection that ends with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

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