Welcome to 5778!
Rosh Hashanah marks the start of a new year on the Jewish calendar. It starts this year on the evening of Wednesday, Sept. 20.
“Rosh Hashanah is a joyful holiday, but some of its signature traditions – like the sounding of the shofar, or ram’s horn – are meant to wake us up from spiritual slumber,” writes Rabbi Cara Weinstein Rosenthal, in an essay on the High Holidays for the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.
Rosh Hashanah starts a 10-day period of prayer, self-examination and repentance, according to ReformJudaism.org. After the 10 days comes Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It starts this year in the evening on Friday, Sept. 29.
During Yom Kippur, we pray to be cleansed of past misdeeds and to be afforded the opportunity to make a fresh start in the New Year, according to Weinstein.
“Yom Kippur is a day of remorse and repentance, but it takes weeks of intense planning to engage in teshuva properly,” Rabbi Yaakov Luban writes in a September, 2016 essay for the Orthodox Union. “Recognizing one’s shortcomings and charting a new course of transformative action is a long and arduous journey that cannot take place with a moment’s notice on Yom Kippur day.”
Luban’s essay, “Sprinting through life,” takes note of our busy 24/7 culture of emails, text messages and social media.
But the rabbi said he felt a message from G-d last year: “Life is not a marathon. Stop sprinting from one day to the next. Next year, pay more attention to the blasts of the shofar.”