04 September 2013

Shana Tovah!

It's the Jewish New Year today... so Shana Tovah!

When I lived in Jerusalem, this holiday was one of the many I was able to observe and participate in... the city literally shuts down for these high holy days. No public transportation or services, cars are banned from the road (in the Jewish parts of the city), and any businesses owned/operated by Israelis are closed. I found a brief and accurate description of the holiday for those curious souls.

Tonight at sundown marks the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, a two-day holiday that celebrates the start of the Jewish New Year. It ushers in the 10 day period known as the “Days of Awe” or the “Days of Repentance”, which culminates in Yom Kippur, the “Day of Atonement.”

Rosh Hashanah is a festive holiday, celebrated by attending extended synagogue services with special prayers and liturgical songs. The shofar, usually a ram’s horn, is blown multiple times throughout the day, which gives the holiday its other name, the Feast of Trumpets. Traditionally, the shofar announces the beginning of the New Year, the anniversary of the creation of the world as well as G_d’s sovereignty over the universe. It also serves as a spiritual call to reflection and repentance in preparation for the coming Day of Atonement.

Another tradition, known as Tashlikh, (casting off) involves going to a flowing body of water and emptying one’s pockets into the water or casting pieces of stale bread into the water – both are meant to symbolize the casting off of one’s sins. Sweet foods are eaten during meals with family and friends, such as apples and honey, raisin challah, honey cake and pomegranates meant to symbolize hope for a sweet new year.

So go get yourself some challah bread and have yourself a Shana Tovah!

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