Jewish New Year – Rosh Hashana, What About it?

 

Jewish New Year came early this year. Every year it falls on a different date because the holidays are based on the 10 month Jewish Calendar. It begins on the Jewish Calendar in the 7th month, Tishrei, which typically falls in September or October on the Gregorian calendar. It is believed to have begun as far back as 6th century BC. Ever wonder what to say on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, when you meet a Jewish person? The Jewish New Year is not just about vowing new goals to lose weight or work out at the gym.

 

This holiday holds several meanings. First, Rosh Hashana itself translates to ‘Head (rosh) of a year’ (shana). This is a time of reflection and a time to make amends for things that went wrong in the past year. It’s a time to reset our footsteps. We use the greeting, ‘Shana Tova’, meaning Good Year.

 

This year, Rosh Hashana falls on the Hebrew Calendar year of 5782, beginning at sundown Monday September 6th for two days and nights we celebrate, ending on Wednesday night but it lasts for ten days and on the 10th night, the holiest holiday of all begins – Yom Kippur, where the fast begins at sundown and lasts til the following night sundown, where we traditionally share a family meal to ‘break the fast’. Yom Kippur is the day we atone for past sins. Sweets are served – traditionally apple slices to dip in honey to hope for a sweet new year after the meal to break the fast.

 

Rosh Hashana is also a celebration of creation, sometimes referred to as the ‘birthday of the world’. This is when God made the covenant with man, creating Adam and Eve. We sound the shofar – an ancient Jewish musical horn made from a ram’s horn, at the close of Yom Kippur. The shofar was used to announce important Jewish public and religious occasions in biblical times to announce the Sabbath, the new moon and for all important public announcements.

 

Shofar

 

Different types of traditional dishes are prepared on the new year. Many sweet items are placed on the table to indulge in a sweet new year. On this occasion people meet their friends and relatives at gatherings and congratulate them. On the special occasion of the Jewish New Year, people greet each other wishing all a very Happy Rosh Hashanah. That’s how it’s supposed to be.

 

But this holiday will be different. I usually keep my two cents to myself, or only share with an intimate friend, but I have nobody to answer to anymore. I have clearly been shown that I matter not, to family. Calling a spade a spade here. When someone loses the love of their life and the only phone calls, letters, messages come from friends, that paints a definitive story. Oh, maybe once or twice a text will come in out of a sense of obligation, but really, my family are my tribe of friends here and the few good friends here at home.

 

This holiday has smacked me right in the solar plexus. The only family I have left are one elusive brother, who did call me, btw, to wish me a Happy New Year. I just laughed. He was getting ready for his family gathering, and despite my sullen tone, and letting him know how I felt, there was no extended invitation. My niece and great niece are what I hold on to as precious family cargo. They went to her mother’s (my sister) last night for a gathering and will be coming over later today for a little cooking and getting together. Those girls never forget their Aunty Debby and I love them like they’re mine. So that’s the size of my family circle.

 

I was feeling quite blue yesterday about the whole goddamned shameful situation, and not bad enough that at this holiday time I am alone without my husband who was my best friend and other half. We did everything together. In the past, when my family would once again leave a welt on my feelings, my Puppy always knew how to pick me up, swear a few profanities about the way I was always treated, and remind me, “You will always have me Cub.” Except, I don’t anymore.

 

I typically don’t like to make waves and spill ugly truths publicly, but hey, I’m a nonfiction writer who writes from the heart. And as one who has so much inside she has yet to share and was always so worried about minding her p’s and q’s as not to offend culprits, I’m in a different life now, and I’m no longer taking punches without speaking up. So, while everyone Jewish is busy spreading their Shana Tovas around social media, I decided not to post phony wishes about wonderful family gatherings, pretending I’m okay with things. Because, clearly I am not. Here’s what I posted on Fakebook:

 

My first Jewish New Year in my life I’ve ever spent alone. As an orphan and widow, I won’t be celebrating. This was once a joyous holiday for me when my father was alive, is when it really meant something to me, when even though family didn’t always get along, we got together for the holidays. Those days are longgggggggggggggg gone and so are my father and my husband, whom I always had to celebrate with on this holiday, which now no longer holds an ounce of meaning to me. Wishing those who celebrate, Shana Tova. For me, I could easily call it Passover – I’ll take a pass on this one. My Shana Tovas are being sent directly to heaven, where the two most important men in my lifetime now reside.

 

Big Puppy

My Puppy

 

My Dad

My Dad

 

I loved this quote from Anne Lamott since I read that book 8 years ago:

 

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” ― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

 

Below are two videos that show the history of how this holiday came to be.

 

How the rituals began

https://fb.watch/7R-nZ8USqV/

 

What’s the big deal about Rosh Hashana

https://fb.watch/7R-CWZpZak/

 

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of you who celebrate in the Jewish faith, a Happy New Year.

 

©DGKaye 2021

 

 

59 thoughts on “Jewish New Year – Rosh Hashana, What About it?

  1. Very informative, Debby! Thanks for explaining the connection between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which always puzzled me.

    I’m glad you have a loving tribe here–and nieces that pay attention just like daughters.

    Sending hugs! ((( )))

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    1. Thanks so much Marian. I know I’m not the only one with ‘family issues’, but the sting is real and I am no longer shoving what I feel regarding them under the rug. No doubt I was the blacksheep in my family. I inherited my father’s compassion and for that I’m grateful. The others sorely lost out in that department. ❤

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  2. I am not sure family gatherings are the same as they used to be unfortunately but I am sorry that you were excluded from your brother’s celebrations.. and thank goodness the ‘girls’ will be over tonight… you will probably have more fun. These times of year which are traditionally spent with those we love are so tough and sending my love and hugs ♥♥ Thanks for the wonderful explanation of the holiday.. I learnt something new today…♥

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  3. I like the idea of the philosophy of making amends for past deeds. If we want to make changes, how can we do that without acknowledging things that have gone amiss? It’s great that you still share your connection with your nieces. I sure hope you have a wonderful gathering with them. Fakebook is filled with phonies; no need to be one of the herd.

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  4. I didn’t know much about the holiday so thank you for sharing that. I’m sorry about your family, but so glad your nieces haven’t forgotten you. Friends do become our family, when our family isn’t there for us.

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    1. L’Shanah Tovah Debby – May your year be sweet in spite of all the sadnesses. Puppy’s memory will always be a blessing. So sad about direct family dynamics.

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  5. Hi Debby, I am sorry about your brother. Families can be very complex and the relationships are often not smooth. I have the opposite gripe, I invite my sisters and their families to everything and often they can’t even be bothered to respond yes or no to the invitation. I find it very rude and I’ve decided not to host Christmas this year. It will be the first time in twenty years of marriage. I hope you have a lovely time with your nieces.

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    1. Hi Robbie. Thanks for dropping by and chiming in. I’m sorry about your own family woes, seems we all have them in some way or other. But good for you. That’s where I’m at – no time for me, to time for you. Hugs xx

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  6. thanks for the explanation, and that’s sad to hear about your family. I will admit that I am not always the best at staying in touch with family members, but I do hope they know that I can be there in their time of need.

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  7. Hello, Debby. I’m so sorry about your brother. Sometimes family can hurt and disappoint you worse than anyone else. I’m happy you have your nieces, though. I’m wishing you a sweet, happy, love-filled new year. 🥰

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  8. Hi Debby, I’m so sorry you had to spend that holiday alone. Last Christmas, I was going to Christmas with my sister in Sydney when Sydney went into Covid lockdown, so was all alone in Canberra for Christmas. A very strange and cold feeling. Sending you online hugs. Toni x

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    1. Thanks so much Hilary. I’m sure we’ve all had our own encounters with family. I guess it just stings more when you’re used to be treating that way, but as a new widow it’s a whole ‘nother game. ❤

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  9. I love the idea of reflecting and resetting. And I know you won’t be “celebrating” (and I understand) but I wanted to wish you a Shana Tova, anyway. 💝 Love and light, my friend.

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  10. My heart goes out to you, Deb. Believe me when I say, it will work out and for the best. Life will settle and you will find the new glowing happy normal. Sometimes, it just takes time.

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  11. Oh Debby. My heart was breaking whilst reading this post. To be abandoned by those you share genetics with us so very very painful. Truth telling is very important! May you be comforted with these virtual hugs.
    (( ❤️💔❤️💔❤️💔❤️💔))

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  12. At least you have your nieces to celebrate with. I have no siblings and see nobody from my side of the family except one cousin every Christmas Day. Of course I see our boys and their families, but nobody else still living that I grew up with. We’re out in the country, and distance is a factor I think. We visit Sam’s relatives though. x

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  13. Thanks for sharing some history about Rosh Hashana, Debby, and the meaning of the holiday. This post made me sad, but I’m glad you’re honoring your feelings, and warmed that “the girls” with be coming by for some family time with you. Anne Lamott’s quote is perfect. Give your girls a big hug and soak in their kindness. ❤ ❤ Hugs.

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  14. Shana Tova, Sis! I know how this feels. I’ve never really been part of my blood family, not growing up with them. We’re never included in anything from my family. Never have been and I see no reason why it would ever change. You know the sad stories about our five children, who don’t really care about us except when guilt reminds them. I know what this loss feels like and my heart goes out to you. Keep moving forward and let some of this hurt go… it’s not all yours to carry. Just know that many friends are here for you. Hugs and love. ❤

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  15. Thank you for sharing the meaning of Rosh Hashana, Debby..I love learning about other religions I always have….This post made me both sad and happy…happy that your nieces are coming to celebrate or just to be with you, happy that you have lovely memories of the two most important men in your lives although they are tinged with sadness at the moment for you..sad that your siblings appear to have their own lives and sad that those who should be supporting you after Georges loss are not…We all can relate to all of that and holidays always highlight and cause the most hurt I think…we cannot choose family but we can choose our friends…Enjoy your time with your nieces and go forward with peace in your heart and be kind to yourself…Hugs xx

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    1. Carol, my all knowing friend. You said it so succinctly. And yes, the hurt of not being considered at these highlighted holiday times of year is what set me off here. But as you say, friends are the family we choose. Hugs ❤ xx

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  16. Family is a hotbed of confusion and hurt at times, and at other times, can be one of love and compassion. It all depends on the “family,” and also, who we consider as family. Some of my good friends are family to me, and wow does that make a difference.
    I love that book by Anne Lamott. She’s a successful author because she doesn not hold back in her writing!
    Thanks for the informative post as well, Debby. I send you a HUGE hug. xo

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  17. Thanks for explaining the connection between those holidays, Debby. I know little if nothing about them, but now I know more than I did yesterday.

    I have often had times when my friends have been more important to me than my family. I’m glad your niece and great-niece came over to join you, though. I’m sure you had a great time together and I hope that despite the horrid year you’ve had, they were able to make you smile and laugh a little.

    Take care.
    xx

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    1. Thanks for popping by Hugh. Yes, the three of us had a lovely time together – food, fun and a movie. And happy to enlighten you on the meaning of these holidays ❤

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  18. Thanks for all the information, Debby, and for sharing your feelings with us. It’s good you have your nieces, even if the rest of the family are… well, let’s not bother with that.
    I saw your post on Facebook and couldn’t agree more with you. I hope everybody is really as happy and has as much to celebrate as their posts seem to indicate. To tell you the truth, in my opinion, they’d be better off enjoying their time with their family rather than posting about it, but there you go. I know nowadays appearances seem to be more important than anything else. Good for you to tell it how it is.

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  19. Thank you for the very interesting information, Debby! Thats real and true tradition. I am feeling so sorry for your lost, and hope you will find solace in the new Year. Best wishes and big hugs, Michael

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  20. I’m ashamed to say that I knew far too little about Rosh Hashana – or Yom Kippur, either. You explain it all beautifully clearly and I wish you Shana Tova (if that’s right!).
    I’m sorry to hear about your problems with your family. As others have said, very often it’s friends with whom you share the closest bond and you have plenty of those plus you have your niece and great niece. I subscribe to the notion that it’s the quality of the friendships rather than the quantity that matters and as long as you have at least one person you can be yourself with, that’s something. I know that nothing will fill the huge chasm left by the absence of your husband but there are people on the periphery who love you and care about you. xx

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    1. Thank you so much Trish, my lovely friend. Yes, without good friends, that would be the worst. I’m glad my post gave you some insight into this often ‘mysterious’ holiday so I thought I’d clarify. Thank you again Trish for being part of my tribe. Hugs ❤ xx

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  21. That was an interesting read, Debby. Thanks for enlightening me about Jewish New Year – and good for you, spilling your guts. Yes, you are a non-fiction writer (and so am I) and we both like to be treated respecfully, share the truth, and speak out. My least favorite part of your post was how you have been – and still are – treated by your family and my favorite part was the quote: “If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” Amen to that!!!

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    1. Thank you my friend. I’m happy to enlighten you. 🙂 And yes, that Lamott quote really resonated with me when I was scared to publish my first book about my mother, while she was still alive. I drilled that quote into my head and had read her book, Bird by Bird, and it empowered me to plow through. ❤

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