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Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah Mezuzzah Symbolizes New Beginnings

When I think of the High Holidays, many traditional symbols come to mind—

the sound of the shofar, an instrument made of a ram’s horn that signals the awakening of the Jewish people. The short and long blasts of the shofar—tekia, sh’varim, teruah, and tekia gedolah—summon us to come together and renew our relationship with each other, ourselves, and, of course Hashem. Crisp apples dipped in honey tempt our taste buds for a sweet new year, while we try a new fruit to symbolize gratefulness for being alive and allowing us to enjoy all the delicious fruit of the creator. A favorite fruit on this holiday is the pomegranate for its biblical significance—the Land of Israel is known for its pomegranates and is one of the “seven species” for its abundant seeds (613 to be exact) associated with fertility and good deeds, specifically the 613 mitzvot in the Torah. Here’s a good way to seed a pomegrante!

Challah is eaten all year round on Shabbat, but on the High Holidays the braided loaf is made into a round shape that represents the crown of a king for it was on Rosh Hashanah, the birthday of mankind, the sixth day of creation, that Hashem was coronated as King of the Jewish people. Another symbolic ritual during the 10 Days of Awe is tashlich, meaning “casting off” our sins of the previous year by tossing pieces of bread or another food into a natural body of flowing water. Beautiful melodic prayers such as the Armaic words of Kol Nidre, meaning “all vows,” and Avenu Malkenu, “Our Father Our King,” stir our emotions as we dig deep into our soul, asking and granting forgiveness of others and ourselves to release burdens we carry and start anew.

This year, for the first time, another Jewish symbol was added to the High Holidays for my family. The mezuzzah that we hung in my son’s new apartment on the Sunday before Rosh Hashanah. Continue reading

Sukkot Celebrates Bountiful Harvest with Family, Friends, Food & Fun

A decorated sukkah in Israel.

The week-long festival of Sukkot, the Hebrew word for “booths,” begins when the sun goes down tomorrow night (September 23-30), and is considered one of the happiest times in the Jewish calendar. When else are we commanded to build a hut-like structure, called a sukkah, in our backyard, decorate it with fresh fruit, gourds and other Judaica ornaments, and get to eat our meals alfresco and even sleep under roofs of branches open to the stars? Continue reading

My High Holiday Hike With Hashem

I finally found Shari, Elise, Mimi & her daughter Adina.

During the High Holidays, the 10-day period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, more Jews fill the pews than any other time of year. Known as The Days of Awe, we push ourselves to do some serious soul searching.  We dig deep during this time of teshuva, a Hebrew word that translates literally as “return” and describes the return to God and with our fellow human beings as we ask (and grant) forgiveness and strive to better ourselves, our souls.

We walk or drive to our places of worship, sometimes having to park miles away and take a shuttle because the parking lot is so packed. Wdon our finest holiday clothes, schmooze with friends, listen to the loud blasts of the shofar, recite special prayers, and read from the Torah. The rabbis wear white robes adorned with silver and gold to symbolize royalty and the annual coronation of God as King of the Jewish people.

On this Rosh Hashanah, I celebrated the birthday of the Jewish people at Nusach Hari B’nai Zion because I feel particularly close to the Orthodox rabbis there, and I gain a lot of insight from the learner’s service afterwards; On Kol Nidre, the eve of Yom Kippur, I helped collect tzedakah, or charity, at Congregation Shaare Emeth, a reformed temple where my kids made their bar and bat mitzvah. When Cantor Seth belts out the Jewish prayer Avenu Milkenu,“Our Father Our King,” his beautiful voice fills the sanctuary. Every year, the rabbis deliver sermons of various themes, their words profound and personal and make me feel proud to be a Jew.

This year, something special happened to me in between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services, and it took place somewhere without stained-glass windows or a Holy Ark. There was no dress code or crowd of people, either. You see, Hashem a Hebrew term for God, came to me while I was lost in the woods, all alone, wearing gym shorts and a t-shirt, and covered with sweat and bug spray.

I call this story my “A-HAshem” moment.

Continue reading

Three Gifts I Learned at Rosh Hashanah

Aish HaTorah St. Louis welcomes Slovie!

Rosh Hashanah, translated in Hebrew as “head of the year,” is a time to let go. As a new Empty Nester, letting go seems to be the theme of everything these days. We let go of our mistakes from the previous year, let go of shame we may be feeling, let go of sorrow for hurting someone, and, of course, ask for their forgiveness.

The Jewish New Year is also a celebrated time for new beginnings…a new school year, a new relationship with others, a new commitment to better ourselves, and a reawakening of Judaism and the Almighty.

Acclaimed author speaker Slovie Jungreis Wolff

Continue reading

Practicing Gratitude on Rosh Hashanah

rosh-hashanah-gratitude

Being grateful is a central theme of Judaism, especially on Rosh Hashanah when we take inventory of all the blessings in our lives. We turn to God and offer thanks for our abundance, even during the darkest times.

In one of the most recognized and quoted texts in Jewish thought, Pirke Avot (written around the year 200 CE), we learn “Who is rich? Those who rejoice in their own portion.”

Continue reading

Rosh Hashanah Soul Searching–Will You Be Ready?

rosh-hashana

On this Rosh Hashanah, don’t just show up. Be ready!

The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, is unlike the celebration of the secular New Year because the resolutions we make are not only to ourselves but to God. Whereas a typical New Year’s resolution on the first of January might be to go the gym and lose a few pounds, the Jewish New Year is a time to really work up a sweat and ask God as our personal trainer to help make us stronger and a better person in the year ahead.

Continue reading

Join Our Girl’s Night Out! Israeli Cooking Demo Feeds The Soul

cooking for the king

Whether you’re looking for interesting new recipes for Rosh Hashanah or just want a fun Girl’s Night Out, join our Israeli cooking demo and tasting on September 10, 7-9 p.m., with Renee Chernin, an international speaker and author of the widely acclaimed Cooking for the King, Rosh Hashanah Edition.

Renee Chernin

Renee Chernin, cookbook author and speaker.

Presented by The Jewish Women’s Society, this kosher food fest, called “Success in Elul,” is open to everyone in the community. Chernin promises to feed the soul with recipes like the sweet and crunchy Shana Tova salad, which she describes as a “one jewel toned salad that has become a holiday tradition and is so beautiful it can be the centerpiece for your Yom Tov table.” 
Continue reading

Rosh Hashanah Sweetens The Deal

apple

The Jewish New Year is off to a sweet start as I pluck another huge yellowish-pink Honeycrisp apple that hangs heavy on a leafy tree branch. I open my mouth wide and bite into the succulent, crunchy fruit and let the juice drip down my chin and make my face sticky. On Rosh Hashanah, apple picking is a great tradition for several reasons. It brings my family together; it symbolizes sweetness for the year ahead; and it’s an opportunity to share the gleanings, or extra crops, with those who are hungry and less fortunate at a local food pantry. Plus, I have an excuse to make a lot of yummy recipes, including apple raisin koogle, applesauce, apple crisp, apple salad, and whatever new treat I can find like honey mustard chicken with apples. (It must have something to do with fasting on Yom Kippur in 10 days).

Continue reading

Families Seek Forgiveness on Rosh Hashana

While other religions talk about sin and confession, Judaism has its own way of cleansing the soul. It’s called the Days of Awe, a spiritual journey that begins in the Hebrew month of Elul, which directly precedes Rosh Hashanah.

Rosh Hashana is the Hebrew word for “head of the year” and occurs on the first days of Tishri. Rosh Hashana begins the period called teshuvah, Hebrew for “returning to God,” or Ten Days of Repentance. It’s a time for serious introspection, a time to reflect on how we’ve behaved over the past year, and how we can do better in the next one. It’s a time to ask forgiveness for saying or doing something hurtful to a loved one. It’s a joyful yet solemn time to make amends and do whatever it takes to move on and learn by our mistakes. When we make peace with God and another human being, we make peace with ourselves. Sounds like free therapy, only sweeter. Continue reading

Apple Picking Ripens Awareness to “Leave the Gleanings”

An annual fall outing to the apple orchard is a fun way for families to kick off the New Year. The tart, juicy apples are as crisp as the autumn air, and with each bite I taste the new season. Whenever I go apple picking I feel like a kid again. I also seem to lose my table manners. Where else can I gnaw on a piece of fruit and nonchalantly drop the rotten core at my feet? Likewise, I abandon all sense of safety when I ride the bumpy tractor-pulled wagon and fling a half-eaten apple across the gravel road. Continue reading