Rosh Hashanah is the celebration of the Jewish New Year, but without the sequin dress and champagne (although you do you).
Unlike Times Square on December 31st, Rosh Hashanah is a lot more introspective, and meaningful. At the core, it's about cleaning up things in your life so you can start the New Year with a fresh slate.
A good way to get started is by asking yourself where you’re hitting the mark and where you need some adjusting. It’s not a coincidence that Rosh Hashanah is also about the trifecta of forgiveness: apologizing, forgiving, and receiving forgiveness. Making amends with loved ones and even forgiving yourself can be the most powerful part of the holiday.
Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the High Holidays (or High Holy Days), then there are the ten Days of Awe and then the other High Holiday is Yom Kippur.Free High Holidays Booklet!
Relax, there's nothing to atone for at this one.
1) Start with the readings on page 19 of JewBelong’s free High Holiday booklet. They’ll help you get into the right mindset to think about what you need to let go of (guilt, habits, shame, etc.) Essentially whatever you need to release to start your year with a clean slate. You know the stuff we mean.
2) Find running water. A creek or a river is best but you can improvise with a sink or bathtub. Just make sure to do something, because this physical act of casting off sins is powerful.
3) Take a deep breath and visualize whatever weighs you down floating away. Don’t rush this part.
4) Then, whoosh, cast it away! It’s best to use breadcrumbs as a stand-in so you are actually tossing something.
5) Take another deep breath. You’ve earned it!
Cast away all your sins with a slice of bread and any body of water.
Start with “I’m sorry.” We hate to be the ones to tell you, but there are no shortcuts. It doesn’t work if you only ask God for forgiveness. Like, “Hey God, please make sure (Josh, Linda, Maryanne, you get the idea,) forgives me for not responding to that email about…” Only you can take care of that. So, stop wasting time, and follow these steps: Feel it: You need to actually feel sorry for forgiveness to happen. (Trust us, we’ve tried it the other way.) Call, visit or write a letter: Don’t use a text to clean up your mess. (OK, fine, text if you must. But there are better ways…) Say this: “I know we’re still fighting about…” or “I’m sorry I haven’t been there for you during…” or, “I’m sorry I lied about…” Most importantly, say: “I am truly sorry, and I hope you forgive me.” And then give the person a chance to do that. Don’t expect immediate gratification because it doesn’t always work that way. What about the people in your life who you aren’t arguing with? The ones you see all the time — and you’re pretty sure you’re cool with? Don’t take any chances. Double-check. Say something like, “If I hurt you in this year and I didn’t realize it, I apologize.” It is a very sweet gesture and strengthens relationships. And remember, according to the wise Rabbis of Old: If you apologize to someone three times from your heart, and they still don’t forgive you, you’ve fulfilled your obligation. You might also want to remind said wronged person that forgiving is important too. Actually, don’t. That’s just going to piss them off even more.
Rosh Hashanah without forgiveness is like The Mets without the losing.
L’Shanah tovah. It’s Hebrew for have a good new year. Shanah is year, tov is good. Or say “Happy New Year” if you feel weird about the Hebrew.
Regular "Happy New Year" works too!
If you’ve ever heard someone refer to themselves as a “Twice-a-Year Jew” it means exactly that – they go to synagogue twice a year, probably on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Honestly though, if you’re only going to go twice a year, mix it up. Try a Friday night service. You may be surprised. If you do go to Rosh Hashanah services, it’s cool to hear the shofar. The intense sound is meant to wake us up so that we do better next year.
Do they call it a High Holiday because it’s better to go to synagogue stoned? (The answer is no. But you do you.)
Lots of people complain about having to buy tickets for High Holiday services. What they may not know is that most synagogues are actually sucking air when it comes to paying their bills. So be a mensch and buy tickets if you can. Also, tickets at some synagogues are really inexpensive so don’t just assume they’re going to cost a lot. If you can’t afford tickets but want to go to Rosh Hashanah services, call your local synagogue and see if you can go for a reduced price or even for free. The second day of Rosh Hashanah is always less crowded than the first day and is probably free, so go then.
If you’re looking for a guide to available services, SynagogueConnect.org has a global network of synagogues which open their doors to welcome young Jewish adults (ages 18-30) to High Holiday services for free.
Synagogue is also a good place to check out the hot girls with curly hair.
If you’re like, well anyone ever, there are probably some things in your life you’d like to change about yourself. JewBelong’s Personal Roadmap will help you get real with yourself by asking questions like: If I knew I couldn’t fail, what would I try to accomplish? What important decision did I avoid making last year? For some of us, the Personal Roadmap is the most important part of the holiday. It can be transformative, especially when you share your answers out loud with someone.
Better than that yoga retreat you never go on anyway.
Many people make a big meal with all the trimmings, like brisket and kugel, but you be you. There are some basics though: • The traditional start of the Rosh Hashanah meal is apples dipped in honey. (There’s a prayer for that.) The honey is because we hope for a sweet year, and the apple is because ancient Jews believed that apples had healing qualities. Also, apples are mentioned in the bible, @Eve. Honey cake is also popular on Rosh Hashanah. TBH, we’ve never had honey cake that was worth the calories. • Rosh Hashanah challahs are round instead of the typical braided shape. This is to signify the circle of life. A lot of times the round challahs have raisins in them, which are kind of a pain to pull out, but if you don’t like raisins in your challah, it’s worth the effort.
Appletinis add a nice zip to the holiday. Just sayin’.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the long list of things we want to change about ourselves (after all, we really are our own worst critics). Check out what Rami M. Shapiro, an award-winning writer and speaker on Judaism and spirituality, has to say about his own list.
First line: Here I am. Last line: Heenaynee – Here I am!…
Totally powerful reading! One of the best for the new year. First line: O Lord, sometimes I feel sad, useless. Last line: Staying on the floor is…
Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting or ignoring wrongdoings, but it’s still so important if we want to feel better.
First line: Forgiveness is a door to peace and happiness. Last line: Forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning…
Pablo Casals was most well-known for his talent as a musician, but he was also a great writer. This reading on teaching our children is especially meaningful for parents.
First line: Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that never was before and will never be again – and what do we teach our children? Last line: You must work – we all must work to make this world worthy of its children…
JewBelong's High Holidays Booklet is the best thing to happen to Rosh Hashanah since the kugel.
This popular song is always a crowd hit (especially for those of us born after 1960). It’s been re-recorded many times since then. A beautiful addition for your celebration.
First line: I see trees of green, red roses too. Last line: What a wonderful world…
Although most of us know the Cat Stevens version of this song, it was originally written as a Christian hymn, traditionally sung by children to give thanks at the start of the new day. Either way, it’s a crowd-pleaser so give it a try.
First line: Morning has broken, like the first morning. Last line: God’s recreation of the new day…
It's New Year's without Ryan Seacrest.
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It makes us happy to know that you’re back. Have a great day!
Because why use any of your precious brain cells to remember where you kept those great readings that you’ll use someday at Jeffrey’s B Mitzvah? Make an account, keep the readings there. Easy peasy. The only thing you’ll need to remember is your password, and from personal experience that’s hard enough.
Hey, can you watch the phones on Friday? We have a thing.