Sunday, September 13, 2009

Rosh Hashanah Unit Study

In our house, we celebrate all of the Jewish and the Christian holidays. I wanted to make sure as the kids got older that they understood the meaning behind all the holidays. So for this year we are going to do a short unit as a family in the evenings as each holiday comes during the year. This week we will celebrate Rosh Hashanah.

What is Rosh Hashanah?

"In the seventh month, in the first day of the month shall be a solemn rest unto you, a memorial proclaimed with the blast of horns, a holy convocation...."

Rosh hashanah is the Jewish New Year also called The Feast of Trumpets because it is a holiday where we blow the shofar, or ram's horn. It is a time for thinking about the past year, and gathering our hopes for the new year. Rosh Hashanah is observed in the Fall season of the western calendar, usually in September.

Leviticus 23 calls the blowing of trumpets a memorial but does not say what it is a memorial of. A memorial of the creation of the world, at which the sons of God shouted for joy (Job 38:7). This holiday was the new year’s day, on which the people rejoiced in a grateful remembrance of God’s benefits and implored His blessing for the future year.

Before Rosh Hashanah we reflect on the previous year, contemplate any mistakes we might have made, and putting things in order by seeking forgiveness from others, and from God. We pray prayers for forgiveness and search out hearts for areas where we might need to recieve or give forgiveness.
We try to maintain a reflective, forgiving mood. The eve before everyone has a bath to make their bodies new, maybe a new haircut and new clothes. Treats are given to children.

The eve of Rosh Hashanah a meal is prepared. Usually it includes fruits and honey both to celebrate creation and to hope for a sweet new year.

Traditional foods sweetened with honey, apples are served, pomegranates, cabbage, gourds, dates symbolizing sweetness, blessings, abundance and the hope for a sweet year ahead. So, so why an apple? Actually we eat apple dipped in honey. At the festive meal we take a piece of apple and dip it into honey as a token of the wish for a sweet year, adding the blessing: "May it be your will, Lord our God and God of our fathers, to renew us a good and sweet year." It works.

Teshuva (repentance)

Repentance is a singulary human ability to realize you have done wrong, say you are sorry, and try not to do it again. You are getting a "Do-over". It is important to both confess your sins to God, but also to repair any wrongs you have done to fellow humans. Such is the power of teshuvah that it restores people to closeness with God or with the other person. Repentance does more than undo the past evil. It brings healing and a new closeness and sympathy.

What is forgiveness?

Forgiveness is a rather complicated notion. In my opinion forgiveness means giving up the grudge. If you have a good basic relationship, and its either one little thing, or several that have caused a rift, then I think forgiveness will also repair the relationship. However, I don't think you have to want to hang out with someone in order to forgive them. Forgiveness is a choice you make in your own heart not to hold a grudge against that person, to just let it go.

Tashlich - Drowning Our Sins

On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, after the afternoon services, Jews visit a body of water or pond, containing live fish*, to symbolically "cast away" their sins into the river. Crumbs of bread are tossed into water, after the Torah verse: "And you will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea."

Genesis 21:1-4, 5-12, 13-21, 22-27, 28-34

Coloring pages


Charity box, rosh hashanah apple cards, shofar
honey card craft
apple candelstick craft
3 D Dove
apple of hope

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