Focus on Faith: Celebrating Jewish New YearBy Zvi Solomons
September 13, 2012
Rabbi Zvi Solomons leads the Reading Hebrew Congregation
September 16 is Jewish New Year. Whoopee!
New Year suggests partying, food, drink, dancing, a Scots piper, the clock ticking until midnight, fireworks, Big Ben and revellers.
Yet the Jewish New Year, whilst a celebration, includes little partying.
Rosh Hashanna or the Head of the Year is the culmination of a period of reflection.
It’s when we aim to fix our relationships, sort out upsets and prepare for a more successful year free from mistakes of the past year.
Romans depicted the year end as two-headed, and we look back to look forward.
Symbolic food includes apple and honey, eaten to symbolise a successful and sweet new year, and fish, prolific in their millions.
The music is markedly different; the service solemn and awe-inspiring and the whole occasion aims ultimately to remind us God is our ruler and it’s to him we give account.
It’s the anniversary of the Creation of Man according to the biblical account, and so it’s to others we aim to reconcile ourselves.
As part of Humanity, we must do nothing to others we would not wish done to us.
The most awesome part involves one hundred blasts of the Ram’s Horn or Shofar – an alarm to remind us to mend relationships and prepare for Yom Kippur in 10 days, when we deal with our relationship with God.
Only when we have mended fences with our fellows can mend fences with the Almighty.
The music and drama reminds us of our childhood with our parents in synagogue. The whole community comes together to wish each other as we wish you – Shanna Tovah U’metukah – a happy and sweet New Year.