Reflecting on the Past Year
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Reflecting on the Past Year
We all have thoughts and feelings from the past year that we’d like to get rid of or forget. During tashlich, we take some breadcrumbs and sprinkle them into a body of water, symbolically ridding ourselves of the sins and bad feelings that have been weighing us down. Now we can go into the new year with a clean slate.
In the days prior to Rosh Hashanah, throughout the Hebrew month of Elul, traditional Jews add Psalm 27 to their daily prayers. Here’s a contemporary translation by Norman Fischer from his book Opening to You: Zen-Inspired Translations of the Psalms
You are my light and my help
Whom should I fear?
You are the fortress of my life
Whom should I dread?
When the narrow ones gather...
Challah is special bread for Shabbat. In the poor homes of Eastern Europe, the daily fare was rough black bread. But on Shabbos the bread was a special loaf of white flour and eggs, decorated with poppy or sesame seeds. In some homes the challah is torn apart (to avoid using a knife which can be a weapon) and pieces are handed or tossed around to each guest. For others, the challah is sliced and passed on a special...
For Ashkenazi Jews, the primary symbolic food of Rosh Ha-Shanah is apples dipped in honey, a way of wishing for a sweet new year. Before eating apples and honey, say the following blessings:
Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha'olam borei pri ha-eitz.
Blessed are You, God, Ruler of the universe, who creates fruit of the tree.
Yehi ratzon lifanecha, Adonai Eloheinu,...
Unetaneh Tokef is a medieval prayer, of unknown authorship, recited in the Musaf Service of both Rosh Ha-Shanah and Yom Kippur. Unetaneh Tokef affirms our own mortality, asking, “Who shall live and who shall die?” In it, we state that through teshuvah (repentance), tefilah (prayer), and tzedakah (acts of justice) we can transform our destiny and give meaning to our lives.
We shall ascribe holiness...
We’ve done lots of looking backward, but now is the time to think forward. What are we hoping to accomplish in the coming year? What are we afraid of, and what are we excited about? What is one thing we hope to have accomplished by next Rosh Hashanah? Go around the table and lay out some goals for the year to come.
Happy New Year! Traditionally, the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, is a time of introspection and reflection. How did we do in the past year? What are we hoping to change in the coming year? During this meal we will rejoice in being together, and think backwards on the year that was, and forward to the year that will be. Plus delicious food, puns, and casting off some bad karma. To a sweet new year!
The traditional confessional prayer, the Vidui, is composed of two parts, the Ashamnu and the Al Chet, that we read aloud on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. The Ashamnu (translated as “we have trespassed” or “we are guilty”) is an abbreviated confession, an alphabetic acrostic, and written in first person plural. We recite this confessional in the plural to...
Named for the 15th day of the month of Shevat, this festival is known as the New Year of the Trees or the Tree's Birthday. Although it's hard to believe when you live in New England. this time of year is beginning of spring in the Middle East. The first almond blossoms have opened and the sap in the trees is beginning to rise. Therefore, it's traditional to eat fruits from Israel on Tu B'Shevat: figs, dates, grapes,...