Rosh Hashanah FAQ: All About the Jewish New Year

Posted on September 17th, 2017
BY MJL STAFF
What is Rosh Hashanah about exactly?


Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) is simultaneously a time of great celebration and subtle trepidation. It is a day to celebrate our creation, but also a day of accounting and judgment for our actions. On Rosh Hashanah, we relate to God as the Ultimate Judge. The Book of Life is opened before the Divine Being and we become advocates for our personal inscription into this book. We review the choices we have made over the past year, our actions and our intentions, as we attempt to honestly evaluate ourselves. You may want to consult this list of questions to help in your introspection.


What is a shofar?

 

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Tashlich, the Symbolic Casting Off of Sins

Posted on September 10th, 2017
This article is featured in our High Holiday Guide. For more articles, recipes, crafts, and ideas, visit here. 
BY LESLI KOPPELMAN ROSS for myjewishlearning.com 
A Rosh Hashanah ritual for the whole family.


What Is Tashlich?

On the first day of Rosh Hashanah , before sunset, Jews traditionally proceed to a body of running water, preferably one containing fish, and symbolically cast off (tashlich) their sins. The ceremony includes reading the source passage for the practice, the last verses from the prophet Micah (7:19), “He will take us back in love; He will cover up our iniquities. You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”

Selections from Psalms, particularly 118 and 130, along with supplications and a kabbalistic prayer hoping God will treat Israel with mercy, are parts of tashlich in various communities.

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Ask the Expert: The Lowdown on High Holiday Tickets

Posted on September 3rd, 2017
BY MJL STAFF
Why many synagogues are "pay to pray" -- and options for those on a budget.


Question: My wife and I decided not to buy High Holiday tickets this year because they’re so expensive. What can we do to mark the holidays at home, on our own?
–Norman, Chicago

Answer: Every year as the High Holidays approach I hear people grumbling about the price of tickets. And it’s true, at some synagogues it’s upwards of $500 a head. But why is it so expensive? It’s only a few hours, right?

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The High Holidays

Posted on August 27th, 2017
BY MJL STAFF
This article is featured in our High Holiday Guide. For more articles, crafts, recipes,etc., visit here. 
A guide to Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and the days in between.


Although the High Holidays themselves–the two days of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) — occupy three days only, they lie within a web of liturgy and customs that extend from the beginning of the preceding Hebrew month of Elul through Yom Kippur. The focus of this entire period is the process of teshuvah, or repentance, whereby a Jew admits to sins, asks for forgiveness, and resolves not to repeat the sins. Recognizing the psychological difficulty of self-examination and personal change, the rabbis instituted a 40-day period whose intensity spirals toward its culmination on Yom Kippur, a day devoted entirely to fasting and repentance.

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Judaism and Suicide

Posted on August 20th, 2017
BY BEN HARRIS for myjewishlearning.com 
Taking one's life is officially a violation of Jewish law, but many contemporary rabbis recognize that most suicides result from struggles with mental illness.


The suicide of a loved one is among the most challenging tragedies a person can face. In addition to the sudden loss, mourners often grapple with feelings of anger and guilt toward the deceased. In addition, there remains a stigma attached to suicide in many parts of the Jewish community born of the fact that Jewish tradition is deeply opposed to the taking of one’s own life in nearly all cases.

Is suicide against Jewish law?

While there is no explicit biblical prohibition on suicide, later rabbinic authorities derived a prohibition from the verse in Genesis 9:5, “And surely your blood of your lives, will I require.” Rashi and other early rabbinic authorities understood the verse as a prohibition against taking one’s own life. Contemporary rulings from all three major religious streams have upheld the view that suicide is fundamentally incompatible with Jewish law and values.

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