At the religious pinnacle of the Jewish year, a pall hangs over the country. The usually exuberant festive spirit of the holiday season is largely squashed by the impending coronavirus lockdown.The High Holy Days in the month of Tishrei are the zenith of the spiritual calendar. They are keenly anticipated and meticulously prepared for, perhaps for months in advance.On Rosh Hashanah, the devout fervently pray in synagogues for a new year filled with blessings and renewal, while families unite to celebrate and reconnect.The fast of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, 10 days later is an intense 25 hours of personal introspection and self-accounting when most Jews attend synagogue, including the traditional and secular, for a dramatic encounter with the Almighty.And Sukkot, five days later, is a fabulously joyous, even euphoric, festival of celebratory ceremonies and prayer services in synagogues, convivial meals with friends and family, jubilant Simhat Beit Hashoeva parties and riotous dances with the Torah at the denouement of the holiday season.This year in Israel, the year of the coronavirus, all of that has been wiped out.The spiraling number of daily COVID-19 infections, the increase in hospitalizations and serious cases and the rise in deaths from the disease have – after repeated dithering, untold vacillations and policy reversals and innumerable internal government disputes – scuppered the most festive season of the Jewish calendar.Rosh Hashanah was a pale imitation of itself with curtailed prayer services devoid of many of the beloved holiday melodies, mostly held outside of synagogues in small numbers and with the congregation muffled by face masks.Many families could not meet due to being in quarantine, or with family members living in different cities or different countries and being unable to meet due to the lockdown and restrictions on international travel.The grandeur of Yom Kippur, and the unique melodies in the prayer services, will sound very different in groups of 20 performed outdoors. The large numbers of less-observant Jews who attend synagogue will not materialize, with 61% of Jews saying they will stay away from synagogue this year, compared with last year’s 39%.And all the festivities of Sukkot are now off the table. The affable holiday atmosphere among friends and family under the Sukkah is now a chimera of the past.In the Jewish state, Jews from across the religious spectrum are feeling an aching loss for the spiritual highlights of the year.Much maligned and criticized as he often is, United Torah Judaism chairman Ya’acov Litzman, in his letter of resignation from the government last week, struck a chord when he decried the government’s failure to have its house in order so the holidays could be celebrated in a more normal fashion.“My heart is with the thousands of Jews who come to synagogue once a year and this year won’t come at all due to the lockdown,” Litzman wrote in protest at the timing of the coronavirus restrictions ahead of Rosh Hashanah instead of earlier in the summer.But in one respect, Israel’s second total coronavirus lockdown has come at an opportune time. It is perhaps fitting that having visited new privations on the country, the country’s leaders are now immediately able to engage in the soul-searching that the Ten Days of Repentance and Yom Kippur demand.As for the rest of us, the prayer “Our Father, our King, withhold the plague from your heritage” will surely be said this Yom Kippur with the keenest intensity for many a year.