Starting Anew – Appreciating the High Holidays


We will soon be starting a new year in the Jewish calendar by celebrating the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. In Hebrew, we call them Chagei Tishrei (Tishrei’s Holidays). For me, the High Holidays represent a new beginning, cleanse, change, forgiveness, the effort to become a better person, the love I give to my family and friends, and so much more that I grew up practicing and learned to appreciate in my adult life.

In Israel, these holidays are considered the first holidays of the year, even though it is more common to use the Gregorian calendar, where the year starts in January for administrative and daily life purposes. For example, people don’t say “let’s schedule for Yud in Tevet (10th of Tevet month).” But we we still use the Jewish calendar in many other aspects of our life. This can be funny, because Thanksgiving will always be on the 4th Thursday in November, however, Rosh Hashanah can be in early September or the middle of October. It can be confusing when you want to schedule your vacations.

Although we use 2018 more than 5778, it is more common to begin the New Year on Rosh Hashanah or the 1st of September— the closest Gregorian month to the start of the Jewish year. This means that school, youth movements, workplaces, community centers and many more places make a new start at Rosh Hashanah.

Because the High Holidays represent the symbolic start of the year, I find it a good time to look back and think about how I have changed and also to reflect on what I want to achieve in the following year. About five years ago, I was in my Shnat Sherut (serving year) in my youth movement. There, my Madricha (counselor in Hebrew) asked me and my friends in the group to write what we regretted on a piece of paper. After we all wrote our notes, we went to the beach. There, we threw the paper notes in the sea. This was kind of a little ceremony of “Tashlich” (cast off).

Eventually, I decided to take this experience a step further. Each year before the eve of Rosh Hashanah, inspired by that experience five years earlier, I write an annual resolution. This year’s resolution is not just a list; it is more in the form of a story about my last year and my hope for the one to come.

This Rosh Hashanah, for the first time, I will not eat with my family in Israel, but I will be with my new family – You. I wish you all a happy and meaningful High Holidays! I hope our time together this year will be the same!

Shana Tovah!


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