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Happy New Year!


Today’s post marks the return of Jew Stuff! I wasn’t leaving it out, really; it’s just that bulk of the Jewish holidays are crushed together between mid-fall and early spring.

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. It literally means “Head of the Year”. Why do we celebrate our New Year on what seems like a random day each year in September/October? I’ll tell ya why: because Rosh Hashanah actually occurs on the FIRST day of the FIRST month…of the Hebrew Calendar. Where the Gregorian calendar (January, February, March, et al) is related to the sun and how the earth moves around it, the Hebrew calendar is related to the moon. So, where it seems that Jewish holidays are always starting up at different days on the calendar, they’re really not; they always start on the same day when you’re looking at the Hebrew calendar. And that’s about all the time I’m going to spend on that.

Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown this evening. What do we do for the holiday? Lots of things. We send cards to wish each other a Happy New Year. We attend services at the temple: ALOT. There is a service tonight, tomorrow, and on Wednesday for the Second Day of Rosh Hashanah. Daytime services are usually about 4 hours long. It is, in our congregation anyway, the only time of year when we have a choir at services. We traditionally eat apples and honey, symbolic of having a “sweet new year”. We blow the shofar (which is totally different from the joke that my religious school co-teacher–of eleven years!–told me about “blowing the chauffeur”, but that’s another story). We do not work, and the kids don’t go to school. In the afternoon, there is a special service called Tashlikh. It is held near a body of water and the congregants toss bread crumbs (from their pockets) into the water, to symbolize the casting off of their sins. Rosh Hashanah is very introspective and Jews commonly apologize to those they have wronged in the past year (whether intentional or not); some even write letters.

To uphold this tradition, I just want to throw it out there that I am very sorry if anything I have written on this blog (maybe even earlier in this very post?) has offended anybody; you never know, and it definitely wasn’t intentional if I did.

After services on Tuesday, our family will go to the home of one of the families in our Havurah, the same group of families that we’ve been sharing holidays with for the past eleven years. We’ll have brisket, salad, kugel, dessert…YUM.

And then we get ready for the most important Jewish holiday of the year, which comes on October 8/9: Yom Kippur. Stay tuned for that.

So, to my Jewish friends: Happy New Year! Or, as we say in Hebrew, L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu! (May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year!)

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Andie September 29, 2008, 3:37 pm

    I find Judaism so fascinating! Thanks for sharing!

  • Ms. R September 29, 2008, 3:42 pm

    Oh my god. I love kugel. I might just go look up a recipe now.

  • Melissa September 29, 2008, 5:10 pm

    Oh Jew stuff, love it. My rhuematologist is Jewish and took today and tomorrow off to observe the holiday. When I was trying to schedule an appt they told me he was taking off for the holiday. At which point I said “what holiday? Did I miss something?”

    Finally occured to me it was a Jewish holiday and that I would be seeing a Jew Stuff post from you soon!

    Happy New Year to you and yours…

  • angie goff September 29, 2008, 6:58 pm

    Happy New Year Friend!
    Any EASY EASY holiday recipes I can try. I missed OKTOBERFEST this sat so instead I made brats and sauerkraut Sunday in its honor! Let me know and I’ll cook something up to help celebrate!
    CIAO!

  • Momo Fali September 29, 2008, 7:45 pm

    You ROCK for giving us such a wonderful explanation! Happy New Year!

  • Mom24 September 29, 2008, 8:25 pm

    Happy New Year. I’m too depressed to say more, but I’m thinking of you.

  • Anissa Mayhew September 30, 2008, 1:06 am

    Happy New Year! Absolutely fascinating, thanks for the insight.

  • Michelle September 30, 2008, 1:14 am

    Happy new year! I never heard about the bread crumbs, but way cool.

    Oh, and I’ve been invited to break the fast on the 9th. If I go, I’ll definitely tell you about it! Enjoy your services.

  • Sue September 30, 2008, 2:12 am

    Happy New Year! Enjoy your holiday!

  • abritdifferent September 30, 2008, 5:26 am

    That was such a great read, thank you for sharing that with us. It sounds beautiful. Are workplaces and schools generally cool with the whole “taking the day off”? Have you seen resistance from it?

    Anyway, my dear, L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu! to you and your family.

  • Kat September 30, 2008, 7:01 am

    Yay to the return of the “Jew stuff” and a Happy New Year! my dear friend.

    As usual you managed to crack me up several times..blowing the chauffeur. Tststs…LOL

  • Melisa September 30, 2008, 12:22 pm

    Ms. R: I have a great recipe; e-mail me if you can’t find one and I’m happy to share!

    Angie: Oops, I forgot to e-mail you with it! I’m crazed this morning so if I have a chance this evening I will do it and you can make it tomorrow or something. πŸ™‚

    Siobhan: The schools legally have to give the students an excused absence; otherwise it would be like making a Christian student be at school on Christmas: not gonna happen. As far as work goes, I know that Jim has had to be at work for certain things over the years a couple times (because a corporation isn’t going to move an audit or an inspection or whatever if it is not a small, Jewish-owned company) but normally he is able to take off: Of course, he has to use vacation days to do it. Oh well. Normally none of that is a problem, thank goodness!

    Kat: Hee hee, thanks for commenting on that joke; I was wondering if anyone would. Should have known it would have been you! xoxo

  • Patty September 30, 2008, 12:45 pm

    Great post. I find the Jewish faith so interesting. Especially like to know more since my cousin’s wife is Jewish and their kids will be too.

    We have a naming ceremony for my new baby cousin in Oct. Looking forward to seeing the temple.

    Enjoy your Holidays πŸ™‚

  • Sarah Clapp September 30, 2008, 1:43 pm

    Happy New Year Melisa! πŸ™‚

  • Mags September 30, 2008, 6:11 pm

    It cracks me up that you call it “Jew stuff”. πŸ™‚

    Happy New Year!!!

  • Hot Tub Lizzy September 30, 2008, 11:01 pm

    Thank you for posting this. I’m trying to teach my girls that as Christians, we need to embrace our Jewish heritage, so we are learning about all the holidays and trying to learn how to properly celebrate them.

  • k a t i e October 1, 2008, 1:37 am

    I understand the importance of needing this post first now πŸ™‚

    Is it acceptable for a non-Jewish person to say L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu, or is Happy New Year more respectful? Either or, I hope it’s a fabulous new year for your family!

    …and there was a loss of coffee out my nose for Blowing the Chauffuer. You saucy little minx!

    I’ve learned so much ‘Jew Stuff’ from you πŸ™‚

  • Melisa October 1, 2008, 2:33 am

    Hot Tub Lizzy: Love your name, thanks for stopping in! πŸ™‚

    Katie: I would say that it’s not UNacceptable to say it in Hebrew as a non-Jewish person, but the English “Happy New Year!” is totally fine. πŸ™‚ Thanks! And thanks for calling me a saucy minx. First time for everything! haha

  • Weaselmomma October 1, 2008, 11:28 am

    Interesting and informative. Do You keep kosher too? Or do you know the joys of a bacon cheeseburger?

  • Melisa October 1, 2008, 12:27 pm

    Weaselmomma: No, we don’t keep kosher as far as keeping meat and dairy separate, but we don’t eat pork. I do know the joys of a “real” bacon cheeseburger though, because we stopped eating pork only ten years ago. Now we still eat bacon, but only turkey bacon. I’ve grown to really like it but know it’s not as good as the real thing!

  • Patty@NYC Girl at Heart September 10, 2010, 8:05 pm

    I love YOUR explanation of Jewish holidays. Its so fascinating!