A Modern Guide to Rosh Hashanah
Rosh Hashanah will be here before we know it! It starts at sundown on Thursday, September 21st and ends at sundown on Friday, September 22nd. It is one of the most important holidays on the Jewish calendar, because it is the Jewish New Year celebration and the first of the High Holy Days (ending 10 days later with Yom Kippur).
Traditionally, this is a time when Jews ask for forgiveness for any wrongdoings and make amends from in the previous year. For me, Rosh Hashanah is a time of self-reflection, self-improvement and to gather with family and community.
One thing I love learning about ancient cultures is that there are an incredible amount of similarities across the globe. In many ancient cultures around the world, fall was harvest time. Crops stop growing, the days get shorter, our internal clocks start slowing down and humans begin to turn inwards. When I was taking an Intro to Judaism class a few years ago, I also learned that all major Jewish fall on days when the moon is full- this was born out of practicality. In the days before electricity, it made sense to hold festivals on nights when the mood was the brightest. So interesting!
In all honesty, I haven't celebrated Rosh Hashanah as much as I would like to. This year, I decided to compile a list of Rosh Hashanah reflection activities that I'd like to try out. Some are Jewish and others aren't:
BATHE Take a healing, detoxifying Epsom salt bath. Throw in some essential oils, flowers, herbs and crystals if you'd like, too!
TIKKUN OLAM (REPAIR THE WORLD) Give time, money and energy in service to others. There are so many organizations that could use our help right now. We're traveling to Austin soon and plan to give to the Kind Clinic, a sexual health clinic there. If you're looking for ideas, you could give to the Syrian American Medical Society, Southern Poverty Law Center or the Stop Hate Project. You could also deliver or help prepare meals for your local food shelter.
VISION BOARD Create a vision board for the new year. Every year, I spend a day writing down my goals for the coming year and creating a vision board. It must be a powerful manifestation practice, because every year almost everything on my vision board comes to fruition!
SIMPLIFY Clean and organize your home. Donate items you no longer need, if it makes you feel good. Starting the year organized and with a clean slate always feels great!
TASHLICH Attend or hold a tashlich, a tradition of visiting a nearby body of water to toss bread crumbs into it. It's a symbolic way of casting away wrongdoings from the past year. I've never done this before, but probably want to spend time reflecting on the past year and bringing a list of what I'd like to improve and grow the following year with me to taschlich.
DINNER PARTY Host a Rosh Hashanah dinner! Go around the table, reflecting on and sharing the blessings from the previous year. This is something we usually like to do on Shabbat, and would be especially nice on Rosh Hashanah. Stay tuned for our effortless and minimalist Rosh Hashanah recipes, coming soon!