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Rosh Hashanah and
By: Rivka C. Berman, Contributor
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Rosh Hashanah for Jews without a Prayer
Rosh means head. Hashanah mean year. Put them together and you get “head
of the year,” or in other words, the Jewish new year. Forget popping
Champagne and silly party hats. Jews view the new year as a serious time
of reflection on the year gone by and prayer for a sweet year to come.
Jews around the world welcome the new year in many ways. They attend
synagogue, eat special meals, wear new clothing, and listen to the
shofar horn being blown.
Sure. You pray all the time. At the bottom of the ninth. Before your
eight-year-old boards the school bus. After ingesting a suspiciously
murky exotic drink in Cancun. But the idea of spending a day or two in
the synagogue wearing stiff new shoes, a circulation-hindering tight
suit, and requisite religious headgear makes you queasy. You and every
other Jew. Yet you go. You buy the High Holiday ticket, tell your boss
you’re taking a personal day or a holiday or a sniff-sniff sick day, and
you go and sit and wonder why.
If you’re not quite sure you believe then why do you go? Jewish mystics
say that on Rosh Hashanah the curtain masking God’s presence in this
world is drawn back – just a little – and causes a spiritual response in
even the least Jewishly inclined Jews. Click here for a fresh view of
Rosh Hashanah Prayer.
The Magic of Jewish Community
Okay, if you don’t buy that. Or can’t quite accept it. Why do you go? Or
why do you feel you would like to attend services on Rosh Hashanah? For
some the appeal resides in being together with a whole room of Jews.
Jews are a minority among minorities. Despite the Jewish high profile
population surveys reveal Jews to be less than a fraction of a fraction
among the world’s religions. Often times no one at work, except that guy
in marketing, or no one at school, except that girl in biology, is
Jewish. To spend a few hours among Jews feels good, feels clubby and
Festive meals extend the Jewish unity bit and Rosh Hashanah’s meaning to
the table. There are a host of traditional but low commitment ways to
wish the ones you love a good year. Would you believe these observances
involve black-eyed peas and cabbage? Read on for more about traditional
New Year’s Resolutions
Remember the grandiose plans made as January 1 approached? Have you gone
to the gym/quit smoking/spent more time with the kids/gone to the
museums/kept your room clean like you said you would? Rosh Hashanah is
another one of those fresh slate moments in time, but the emphasis is
different than the secular new year. Traditional liturgy emphasizes a
reevaluation of the human relationship with God. Much is made about
reaffirming God as Sovereign, who destines length of days and sits in
judgment of our deeds. Unlike Yom Kippur, where atoning for misdeeds is
the emphasis of the day, Rosh Hashanah helps us imagine what we might
become as better Jews, as better people, whose lives would be guided by
a higher purpose.
Mazor Guide to Rosh Hashanah brings you much more about the holiday, its
meaning and its traditions... See the links below.
Buy Kosher Wines for Rosh Hashanah!!