by Maxine Tomashefsky, Past Chairman of Council of Christians and Jews, Lincoln
Jewish communities all around the world are celebrating the High Holidays beginning with one of the holiest days of their year – Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.
It is the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, and a day of judgement and coronation of God as king of the universe. This year the two-day holiday starts on October 2. It is the beginning of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar, Tishri.
It is a time for an epic journey for the soul, a time of personal reflection and prayer, a time to ask God to grant us a year of peace, prosperity and blessings.
Jews believe God balances a person’s good deeds over the past year against their wrongdoings. The day marks a time of reflection and penitence, and worshippers ask God for forgiveness.
Customs include blowing the shofar – a hollowed-out ram’s horn – and eating symbolic foods such as apples dipped in honey to evoke a “sweet new year”, challah bread shaped in a round loaf to symbolise a circle of life and the lighting of candles on the two evenings.
On the first afternoon of Rosh Hashanah it is customary to go to a body of water (ocean, river, or lake) and perform the Tashlich ceremony, in which we cast our sins into the water, symbolically evoking the verse, “And You shall cast their sins into the depths of the sea.”