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!)