Deep Wisdom From the Jewish Faith
The upcoming Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish High Holidays or New Year, takes place September 28-30. What’s the tradition of the holiday—and the spirituality that it celebrates? What opportunities does it allow for deep reflection and transition into a new period?
In American culture, marking the New Year often means parties, champagne and resolutions to lose weight. It’s an all-out festive occasion, marking the end of the holiday season that began with Thanksgiving.
In the Jewish faith, things are a little different.
Starting this year at sundown on Wednesday, Sept. 28, the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah (literally, the Head of the Year), is both the celebratory kickoff to an entire month of holidays and a solemn opportunity to reflect on the past year. Prayers and teachings related to the holiday frequently refer to a Book of Life, in which all those who will enjoy Divine favor in the coming year are written. Each person has the opportunity to improve his/her fate by engaging in teshuvah, repentance for sins and indiscretions and by working to improve.
Rosh Hashanah is considered the Day of Judgment for Jews, said Rabbi Moshe Herson, Dean of the Rabbinical College of America in Morris Township. This act of teshuvah prepares people for a “wholehearted return to our Father in Heaven, culminating on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and Forgiveness.”
For many Jews, Rosh Hashanah and teshuvah are annual reminders of the possibility to renew relationships with God and with each other.
Are you celebrating Rosh Hashanah this year, or know somebody who is?