Celebration of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, starts Wednesday
By CHRISTOPHER QUINN
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 09/11/07
A time of darkness and light begins today, a season of shared joy and quiet introspection.
Jews around the world are gathering for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.
Johanna Norry of Congregation Shearith Israel performs the Havdallah ceremony during a pre Rosh Hashana services at Congregation B'nai Torah in Sandy Springs, Ga., on Saturday.
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It is a time to settle debts, forgive and be forgiven and gather with family to celebrate endings and beginnings. The holiday ends on September 22 with Yom Kippur, a day of fasting and atonement.
But before the fast, there is plenty to eat and plenty to do.
"Being a Jewish woman, I start cooking," said Doris Goldstein of Atlanta.
There are menus to be planned for gatherings, roasts and chickens to buy, special dishes to make.
Challah, braided loaves of bread for holidays and special occasions, are baked in circles to symbolize the cycle of a year. Goldstein mixes extra sugar and raisins into her challah to emphasize a hoped-for sweet new year.
Many, like Cheri Levitan, will eat slices of apple dipped in honey for the same reason.
The Levitans are traveling from Atlanta to be with the entire family in Orangeberg, N.Y., as they do every year.
Her grandparents will be there, along with her parents, eight brothers, sisters and cousins and 17 nieces and nephews.
"My grandparents are holocaust survivors, so gathering the family together is a big deal," Levitan said.
"So every Rosh Hashana there is a houseful of people, and my mother and aunts were always in the kitchen. So it was always a very traditional Eastern European holiday with chicken soup with matzo balls, and roasts...and always apples and honey to wish each other a sweet new year."
Afterward, they will attend synagogue for prayers, singing and sermons on penitence and forgiveness.
It is a time to take stock in last year's events and one's actions. To seek forgiveness from those wronged and to forgive those who have wronged you.
"It's time for me to assess where I am on this journey that we all are on, and how I feel about some of the choices I have made, and how do I learn from past experiences, and how to keep improving myself and this world around me, if I can," Levitan said.
The holiday ideas are not just introspective, but require action.
"I have a sister that I don't always see eye-to-eye with," she said. "But there is a tendency at this time of year to bury the hatchet. The holiday is a time for us to look each other in the eye and acknowledge we are going to try to be different this year."
Rabbi Joshua Heller of B'nai Torah in Sandy Springs said Jews must clear up their problems with fellow men before going before God on Yom Kippur to ask his forgiveness for shortcomings in the last year.
Steve Berman of Atlanta said some Jewish traditions also say Yom Kippur is the day on which God writes down who will die in the coming year.
That reminds him that "We should live every day of our lives as if it's our last day of life. It is a hard thing to keep in mind that I want to live each day a more meaningful life. It reminds us that our time on this earth is fleeting, and to make a difference you have to live each day with intention and with great humility."
Just posted this, as I was interested to read about the Jewish New Year - hope you all have a fab time :hug: