L’Shanah Tovah u’Metuka

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Tishrei is the richest month in the Jewish Calendar. Commencing with Rosh Hashanah, which begins the Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe) or Asseret Yemei Teshuva (Ten Days of Repentance) which are conclude with the holiday of  Yom Kippur, through  Sukkot and  Hoshanah Rabbah,  Shemini Atzeret and  Simchat Torah – these holidays set the tone for the entire year to come.

In the Sephardic tradition, Selichot begins during the series of Selichot services of the High Holidays on the second day of the month of Elul and recite Selichot throughout the entire Elul. In the Ashkenazic tradition, it begins on the Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah – this year Selichot (according to Ashkenazi custom) begun after midnight of  Sunday morning, September 5th.

Tishrei and preceding it Elul, it is also a best time for charity, tzedakah.

Rosh Hashanah is characterized by the blowing of the shofar.  Shofar is used mainly on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  It is blown in synagogues to mark the end of the fast at Yom Kippur,  and blown at  four particular occasions in the prayers on Rosh Hashanah.

During the afternoon of the first day occurs the practice of tashlich, in which prayers are recited near natural flowing water, and one’s sins are symbolically cast into the water.

Many also have the custom to throw bread or pebbles into the water, to symbolize the “casting off” of sins. The Rosh Hashanah, is also a major holiday with wonderful culinary traditions.

Yom Kippur is the tenth day of the month of  Tishrei.  According to Jewish tradition,  G-d inscribes  each person’s fate for the coming year into a book, the Book of Life, on Rosh Hashanah, and waits until Yom Kippur to “seal” the verdict.

One of the customs of eve of  Yom Kippur is a Kaparot,  an ancient ritual to save oneself from a harsh Heavenly decree by it being effected on another object. Vegetables, fish, money, and other objects have been used throughout the centuries.

The ritual is preceded by the reading of  Psalms 107:17-20 and Job 33:23-24.  The service is performed by grasping the object and moving it around one’s head three times, symbolically transferring one’s sins to the object. The object is then slaughtered or donated to the poor, preferably eaten at the pre-Yom Kippur feast.

In modern times, Kaparot is performed in the traditional form mostly in Hassidic communities. Members of other communities perform it with charity money substituted for the chicken, swung over one’s head in similar fashion.

Sukkot is holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the Tishrei. The Hebrew word Sukkot is the plural of sukkah, “booth, tabernacle”. The sukkah is intended as a reminiscence of the type of fragile dwellings in which the ancient Jews dwelt during their 40 years of wandering in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt.

Throughout the holiday the sukkah becomes the living area of the house, and all meals are eaten in it. On each day of the holiday, members of the household recite a blessing over the lulav and etrog, or  Four species.

Traditional Rosh Hashanah greetings: Shana Tova Umetukah (A Good and Sweet Year),  Ketiva ve-chatima tovah (May You Be Written and Sealed for a Good Year), Sephardic greeting is Tizku leshanim rabbot (May you merit many years), to which the answer is ne’imot ve-tovot (pleasant and good ones), גוט־יאָר (gut-yor) (Good Year).

כתיבה וחתימה טובה, לשנה טובה ומתוקה

May We All Be Written and Sealed for a Good and Sweet Year
Jewish iPhone Community’  team

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