Sunday, September 16, 2012

Rosh HaShanah 5773

Chag sameach and Shanah Tova everyone! In just a few hours my favorite holiday will officially begin. I am rushing around my apartment trying to get ready both for dinner and for services. But I wanted to take a few minutes to share some more thoughts on Rosh HaShanah. Last year was my first one and I absolutely fell in love. In some ways, observing the High Holidays was when my real commitment to Judaism began. By this time last year, I wasn't just committed to Jewish ideas and values but to Jewish life. I just needed to experience more Jewish life! This year I've really been looking forward to Rosh HaShanah, and one of my 10Q question explains my personal connection to it.

Day 5: 
Have you had any particularly spiritual experiences this past year? How has this experience affected you? "Spiritual" can be broadly defined to include secular spiritual experiences: artistic, cultural, and so forth. 
Your Answer: 
Going to Shabbat at Hillel for the first time was very spiritual. Hearing the shofar blown and hearing a real cantor sing a prayer for the first time at the 9.11 memorial was extremely moving. I found myself smiling listening to him. And I got goosebumps when I heard the shofar. Also, hearing the shofar on Rosh Hashanah was totally awesome. I also got goosebumps then, and I felt truly awakened - just as the shofar is supposed to do. And experiencing my first Torah service on Rosh Hashanah was something to be remembered. I'd never seen a Torah in person before and getting to see the reverence that everyone paid to the Torah was awe-inspiring. After/during Rosh Hashanah was when it sort of became solidified that Judaism is the religion for me. No other experiences, traditions, or symbols of Christianity ever affected me the way the shofar and Torah service did.
Tonight, I will know Aveinu Malkanu; I will be able to read new and old prayers in Hebrew; I will stand with my Jewish friends and be connected to them and all the Jews throughout space and time.

Tonight, you can expect to see a lot of Jews you've never seen at services before. You can expect new melodies for all the prayers. But the service tonight will be nearly identical to other evening services. You can expect the air to feel different, because the new year brings new feelings of excitement and reverence for G-d.

Tomorrow, services will look different. When the shofar is blown, expect three different notes to be played. Teki'ah is one long blast. Shevarine is three broken sounds. And Teru'ah is nine staccato notes. There are four different combinations of these three notes.

Tomorrow evening will be the tashlich service. Tashlich means "casting forth" and in this service you cast away your sins. This casting is symbolized by throwing bread pieces into a living body of water.

If this is your first Rosh HaShanah celebration, mazel tov on making such and important decision and being committed enough to do so :)

To all my readers, l'shanah tova tikatevu. May you be inscribed for a good year!

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