The observance of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, calls for abstention from five activities: eating, drinking, anointing/washing oneself, wearing leather shoes and marital relations.
Respected Biblical commentators are rarely university professors or radio personalities. Even less common is for them to be female. And while her credentials were certainly not the norm, Nehama Leibowitz was unique beyond even that.
In order to fully understand Yom Kippur, it is important to look deeper at the Jewish concept of teshuva, “repentance.”
On Rosh Hashana, God judges the world (and all the people therein), but their fates are not sealed until 10 days later, on Yom Kippur. It is during these ten days during that we must present a compelling case of our worthiness to the heavenly court.
“I swear that this time I will lose weight”
“I am going to pray every day…”
We make promises all the time. We swear that we are going to do something, and then hope that we will be in a position to fulfill the vow.
The Rosh Hashana tashlich ceremony is a tradition that is dear throughout the many diverse Jewish communities. Tashlich literally translates as “You will throw.” But what, exactly, is it?
Since Rosh Hashana is the Day of Judgment, it is customary to eat simanim,* foods with symbolic meanings that invoke God’s blessing. We also recite a short prayer before eating them. While apple with honey is a universal custom, other symbolic foods eaten depend on family custom. Here are some examples:
In addition to the unique prayer services of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the High Holidays are known for one other service: selichot. A collection of religious poems and verses, selichot are penitential prayers that help one focus on the mood of the season.
In a little over a week, Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, will be celebrated. While New Year’s celebrations are nice (the Jewish calendar actually has four of them!), Rosh Hashana’s significance is far greater than a mere New Year. It is, in fact known as Yom Hadin, the Day of Judgment, and is a time when Jews focus on recognizing God as the King of Kings.
It is said that, by nature, women are social creatures. This social, when organized, can be an incredible life-force. This idea became reality when Hannah Greenbaum Solomon (1858-1942) created the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW).