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The Year 5,778

Mia Egerman, Editor

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L’Shanah Tovah! It’s the Jewish New Year, however we won’t be raising a glass these next couple of days. Rosh Hashanah directly translates to “head of the year”, but may not be celebrated how you’d imagine. For the Jews, this is only the beginning of the High Holy Days, which also consists of Yom Kippur. There’s something about Rosh Hashanah that allows Jews of all practices, all over the world, to maintain symbolism through both culture and religion.

Rosh Hashanah day 1 service, Temple Isaiah

Ever since I was young, Rosh Hashanah has never been the New Year. It was always “the time of the year that the Rabbi blows the shofar” (a hollowed-out ram’s horn used to symbolize a call for atonement). In my eyes, Jews create meaning from the smallest of things. Even when I was little and wanted to clarify which apples we ate to make for the sweetest year, my mom would remind me the green apple may make for an enriching year, but red will bring love and fulfillment. We begin repenting for our sins on this holiday prior to Yom Kippur because that’s when we ask for complete forgiveness with intentions of starting over in the New Year. It may be the New Year and can stand for new beginnings, but I believe noticing past wrongdoings can make for an even better future, and coming year (Year 5,778).

 

Rosh Hashanah is special to me for a multitude of reasons. Where we’d usually eat a regular braided challah (a special Jewish bread), on Rosh Hashanah we eat one that’s round to symbolize the circle of life. These minor details mean so much to me because of what I’ve grown up around. I may have not always understood why we do what we do, but if we didn’t eat apples and honey, or even pomegranates to symbolize fruitfulness, it wouldn’t feel like Rosh Hashanah.

Today, however, I look at this holiday a little differently than I have before. It’s the New Year, but it’s also 2017. Being a Jewish-American in today’s society has molded a new appreciation for my culture that I’ve never felt before. For once, I’m able to take this time and reflect on my identity as a Jew and appreciate all this year has brought, despite what it’s taken. I feel a sense of togetherness with my Jewish community as we sit together protesting and speaking out against injustices. I feel grateful that at the end of the day, we can come together and light the candles as one. We don’t see each other as an oppressed people, but as a community who comes together to uphold traditions and create some new ones on the way. So rejoice in this New Year- but don’t forget the past and look forward to the future.

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The Year 5,778