I work at the Mirman School on Mulholland Road in Los Angeles. Today our Jewish teachers wished each other a Happy New Year. One even came to me and asked that I forgive him for the stupid prank he played last winter. What’s all this about?
Dear Curious Christian,
Tonight begins Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashanah is literally translated as “head of the year.” However, it is nothing like the celebrations of January 1. Jews won’t be out in the streets with party hats, blowing whistles, nor setting off fireworks. This New Year commemorates creation. It is the time of year we begin to look back at our mistakes and plan changes in ourselves to be better human beings. Rosh Hashanah is one of the most revered holy days on the Jewish calendar. The day is freed up from work as Jews flock to synagogues all over the Los Angeles area and the nation.
We start the holiday with a Seder. Before the meal begins we eat various fruits and vegetables that serve as good omens for the coming year. Here are a few examples:
- First we dip bread into honey, a sign for a sweet year.
- Then we eat a date so our enemies won’t harass us.
- Pomegranates are eaten so our merits increase like the pomegranate’s seeds.
- We dip apple into honey so God will renew for us a good and sweet year.
- Finally, fish is eaten so we will be fruitful and multiply like fish.
As to why your colleague asked for you to forgive his silly prank, well that’s because he is preparing for Yom Kippur, the day of atonement. Your friend can’t ask God to forgive his prank, because it’s between you and him. Consequently, he has come to you to ask for your forgiveness.
Rosh Hashanah will begin at sunset today, September 20, 2017 to usher in the Jewish New Year of 5778. It’s a two day holiday and the traditional anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman according to Biblical myth.
Shanah Tova (Happy New Year),