September – Preparing for the High Holidays

From the Revels Community:

Shanah Tovah! (Happy New Year!) Our group of Revelers has been meeting to share family traditions, recipes, songs, and stories for the Jewish Holidays. We started with Rosh Hashanah, which takes place Monday, September 6 until Wednesday, September 8.

Rosh Hashanah, literally “head of the year,” is the Jewish New Year. We blow the shofar (ram’s horn) in the morning to gather everyone together to celebrate, and we eat sweets, like apples and honey, to bring in a sweet new year. Rosh Hashanah is also the first of the ten Days of Awe, a time of reflection leading to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

We invite you to celebrate with us in a singalong, a challah-braiding tutorial, a guided meditation, activities for kids, and more, coming here and on Facebook.”

Marking Yom Kippur

From Reveler Rowyn Peel:

“Yom Kippur is the Jewish Day of Atonement. We gather to reflect on our mistakes and regrets from the past year, and to ask forgiveness: from G-d, from each other, or from within ourselves, depending on our traditions and personal beliefs. This is also a major fasting day, when we ignore the desires of the physical body to focus on our spiritual goals. Fasting traditionally includes abstaining from food, water, and sometimes other pleasures for 25 hours. However, if it is medically unsafe for a person to fast, they are obligated to eat, because taking care of yourself is more important than taking any ritual instructions literally.

Yom Kippur is the holiest Holy Day in the Jewish calendar. The traditional greetings are “G’mar chatima tovah,” which means “May you be sealed [in the Book of Life] for a good year,” and “may you have a meaningful fast” if you know someone is fasting.” Learn more about Yom Kippur here.

For Yom Kippur, Reveler Toni Goldberg and our friends at The Puppet Company have shared this production of Jonah and the Great Fish with us. Enjoy! You can also click the button below to download a Yom Kippur coloring sheet for kids!

Baking a Honey Cake:

“Preparing for the High Holidays” continues as Reveler Debbie Grossman shares how to bake a honey cake — following her great-grandmother’s recipe! Download the recipe at the button below and make it yourself.

Make a Tasty Treat

Reveler Meg Siritzky and family are your guides through the practical, creative, and ultimately delicious steps for making teglach: knotted pastries with honey and nuts that are enjoyed at Rosh Hashanah. Click below for the recipe and make them yourself!

Tashlikh Meditation

Reveler Meg Siritzky guides us in an embodied Tashlich meditation created by Rebekka Helford. Tashlich is a traditional atonement ritual observed during the holiday of Rosh Hashana that harnesses the power of “casting off” to help us release the burdens we’ve been holding as the new year begins.

To learn more, watch…

Take a moment for reflection with Reveler Rowyn Peel, who introduces the Jewish ritual Tashlikh, practiced between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Rowyn adds: “You can write down your regrets if you find that helps you think through them. However, please do not throw your list into the stream! It is also customary to use this time to reflect on everyone we have hurt or wronged in the past year. You can write a list, but the important thing is to make sure you sincerely apologize before Yom Kippur. The Days of Awe are an important time for reflection so that we can learn from our mistakes and work to do better next year.”

Video Transcription

Tashlikh, which translates to “cast off,” is a Jewish ritual that we do between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Traditionally, we toss breadcrumbs into the stream to symbolize letting go of our regrets from the past year. However, bread isn’t healthy for the wildlife, so it’s better to use fallen leaves or sticks from near the stream. Tashlikh is typically a very personal, introspective activity. It can be done in a group, but you’re under no obligation to say your thoughts aloud. Take your time. The purpose is to reflect on the past year, not to discard it. It’s important to recall mistakes, so that we can come to terms with our flaws and make a conscious decision to do better in the year to come. Shanah Tovah, everyone!

Learn more about Tashlikh

Shofar Interview & Demonstration

Reveler David Ehrenstein interviews shofar-blower Jeff Toretsky about the shofar (ram’s horn), which is blown on Rosh Hashanah. Hear and learn about this 5,000 year-old-instrument! Special activity for kids: click below to download a Rosh Hashanah coloring sheet — how would you color in a shofar?

Singalong & Kids’ Activity

As part of their preparations for Rosh Hashanah, Reveler Carlin and her mother invite us to sing along with them in the song “Apples and Honey” in the hope of a “sweet new year.” Special activity for kids: click below to download a Rosh Hashanah coloring sheet — what colors will you pick for your apples and honey?

Challah-Braiding Tutorial:

From Reveler Erin:

“Rosh Hashanah has always been a special time of year for me. As it often falls in September, it brings a true change in season – the breeze gets cooler, the shadows longer, and apples and spices are everywhere. It’s a time for celebration,  and to reflect on the past year.

This year has been like none other for all of us! At the start of our COVID-19 ‘lockdown,’ my family needed something to signify the end of the workweek. I looked to my Jewish traditions and brought celebrating shabbat — which starts at sundown on Fridays –—into our family routine. Along with that came challah baking! My daughter Margo helped me make our very first challah, and we’ve been making them for shabbat ever since.

Challah is a traditional Jewish bread, and in my Ashkenazi (eastern European) tradition, it’s a yeasted dough enriched with eggs, honey, and olive oil. It is typically presented in a long braid with intricate patterns, but for Rosh Hashanah, the challah takes on a round form to signify the turning of the year. These rounds can be braided or made as a simple spiral. Challah on Rosh Hashanah also may feature raisins to signify a sweet new year!

I hope you’ll join me in making a challah for your family this Rosh Hashanah. It’s a sweet treat that brings us all together, even when we are far apart. L’shana tova!

More About Jewish Holidays:

The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar, so the common calendar dates for the Jewish holidays change every year. Jewish calendar dates begin at sundown of the night beforehand. Thus holiday observances begin the night before. Jewish calendar dates conclude at nightfall. Learn more about Jewish Holidays here, and at this article for kids.

See the holidays Revelers shared in our “Revels Book of Days” — part of our “Season of Reveling”!

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