I've invited my friend Lisa back to the blog to educate us on the Jewish holiday, Rosh Hashanah. Here's a fact sheet about this annual festival,which starts Sunday, September 29th at sundown this year. Also, here is the other guest post Lisa wrote for my readers, "A Jewish Reflection on an Ancient Prayer."
by Lisa Leshaw
The words "new year" conjure up all sorts of visual images; celebrations on the eve of, a ball drop in Times Square, tons of confetti and the traditional playing of Auld Lang Syne.
When Jews hear "New Year" it also conjures up something else; the start of the most holiest of weeks in the Jewish religion, beginning with the celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the New Year. Rosh Hashanah is the starting point to the Days of Awe; a 10-day period of looking deeply into one's self; examining our foibles and repenting for our sins.
It ends with the holiest of holidays; Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. The holiday of Rosh Hashanah is marked by the blowing of the shofar, or ram's horn which is a traditional ritual around the world. There are many foods associated with Rosh Hashanah although the two that everyone seems to know best are Apples and Honey. We also partake in the delicious Challah, Couscous, Dates, Fish, and Honey Cake.
At the end of our 10-day period of reflection, we celebrate Yom Kippur, which is generally considered to be the most important holiday in the Jewish faith. During Yom Kippur, we engage in prayer over the course of 25 hours, asking God to forgive our transgressions. We fast during this period as a form of penance.
As a young child, my Orthodox Grandmother explained to me that God would be deciding all of our fates during this holiest of times and that I should make sure to ask God for forgiveness. She pretty much scared the bejesus out of all of us and I ended up asking God to forgive me everyday until I turned 12.
As Yom Kippur comes to a close, we all gather to "break the fast" with light foods. We're surrounded by our loved ones as we celebrate the grace and goodness around us and count all of God's blessings.