Siderman Family Camp and Conference Center in North Fork welcomes all to its traditional Jewish Rosh HaShanah services starting the evening of Monday, September 6 at 6:45 pm, led by Rabbi Shlomo Menkes. If you plan to attend, please RSVP to SidermanCamp@gmail.com or text to 310/403-1821.
The High Holy Days of Rosh haShanah and Yom Kippur contain powerful observances and prayers applicable to all mankind.
Rosh (ראש) means “head” and hashana means “the year,” (השנה). Thus, Rosh Hashanah marks the head of the year 5782 in the Hebrew calendar, the first and second days of the month of Tishrei. This time specifically celebrates the creation of Adam and Eve, which was the culmination of God’s six days of creation and His crowning achievement. It further celebrates the coronation of the King of Kings (God) and marks God’s forgiveness of Adam after eating the forbidden fruit.
Rosh Hashanah offers an opportunity for introspection and repentance for both Jew and non-Jew, as God has the ability to do something man cannot: Offer a chance to leave the past behind, start over, forgive past transgressions.
Rosh Hashanah includes the blowing of the shofar, the ram’s horn, as a call to prayer and reawakening, to bring us to awareness of possibilities and set the tone for the period.
Certain prayers are recited along with the blowing of the shofar, principal among them the Amidah, which celebrates the oneness of God, as a unified force, affirming that everything is God, and God is in everything.
An integral part of the Rosh Hashanah celebration are festive meals with an emphasis on sweetness, to project the wish for a “sweet” incoming year. Traditional foods eaten on the first night include apples dipped in honey, challah bread sprinkled with raisins, and tzimmes (a sweet carrot-based dish). “Sharp” condiments are avoided.
Especially significant this Rosh Hashanah is that it is a “sabbatical” year in the land of Israel where fields lie fallow until the next new year, and no planting is done. This occurs every seventh year and in seven cycles of seven (49 years) with the fiftieth year being a Jubilee year, where crops lie fallow for two years straight. The Jewish farmer understands that this serves as a test of God’s promise, that everything needed is already here. As humans it is our responsibility to discover the resources that God has placed for us.
Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the period of repentance, where we are given an opportunity to reflect on our lives and our deeds, and it is said that on that day we are Written into the Book of Life. The High Holy Days conclude with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, spent abstaining from food and drink for approximately 26 hours and reflecting on the past, your relationship with God and setting intentions for the future. At the end of Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish year, tradition says you are “Sealed in the Book of Life.”
In short, the High Holy Days are a period of intense reflection and intention-setting that serves the observant well in preparing for the incoming year. With the turmoil occurring throughout the world in these challenging days, perhaps it serves us all to enter into a period of reflection.
This is a simplication of the meaning of the High Holy Days. For those interested in learning more, you can consult the following sources:
שנה טובה – Happy New Year to everyone!!