We are in the month of Elul right now, going by a calendar at least 4,000 years old that follows the moon; a lunar calendar. The High Holidays are about to begin, and we learn of them from
Moses b: 1391 BCE-d: 1271 BCE.
so we get ready by visiting the graves of relatives and teachers-to remember the sanctity of their lives and to gain inspiration for the coming year. It is the custom.
ROSH HASHANAH-October 2nd-starting
The Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, the New Year, starts at sundown on October 2nd, It is the birthday of the world. It's also the Day of Judgement, a solemn time of reconciliation and confronting the past year. However, it is New Year's Day but not as frivolous as January 1st, but a joyous remembrance of the creation.
On the eve of the holiday on the 2nd of October this year, families have a big dinner when it is customary to dip an apple in honey to bring in a sweet New Year. On the 2nd night of the holiday, it
is customary to eat a new fruit-not yet eaten that season. The meal can also include more apples and honey.
A special challah is made, the bread eaten on the Sabbath (Shabbat) that is made with an egg and braided with sesame and poppy seeds on the top for decoration, but this challah is to be
made as a round loaf to symbolize a crown, or it can be made in the shape of a ladder, symbolizing Jacob's dream connecting heaven with earth. The table may have red apples, white grapes, and white figs. I think I'll include deep blue plums while I'm at it. We may send New Year's cards out to family and friends as well at this time. Mothers usually buy a new outfit for the children and herself to wear at synagogue for the new year. It's a happy occasion with high hopes for the future.
YOM KIPPUR =October 11th- starting
Ten days later comes another holiday, this time a very somber one; Yom Kippur, which falls on the 10th of Tishri. It is our most holy holiday. This year it falls on the 11th of October, a Tuesday. This is the culmination of the entire High Holiday period. After this, the old year is ended and the new one begun. We have a big meal on the eve of Yom Kippur that is joyous. Our challah can be shaped into the forms of birds or have this figure on the top, though I haven't been that artistic.
It would be there to symbolize the aspiration and opportunity of man to attain the level of the angels, and the sheltering protection of G-d. After dinner on the eve of this occasion, we begin a 25 hour fast (no food or water) that ends in a light repast the next night. We try to eat so that we will not feel hunger as much since we spend most of the time in the Synagogue asking G-d forgiveness for our sins.
This holiday is marked by physical abstinence of food and for married folks, relations so as to concentrate on the spiritual. If one is sick or weak, we are exempt from doing this. We wear shoes to synagogue that are NOT made of leather. No major washing during this holiday like a bath. We don't wear cosmetics or anoint our body with anything. A service of Kol Nidre is sung by the Cantor, a beautiful heart wrenching piece of music that starts before sunset. We greet each other at the synagogue with "May you be finally sealed for good in the book of life", for it is our custom to feel that if we were worthy, our name would go down in the book to live for another year. The shofar is blown in a rhythmic blast of notes that we all want and need to hear that marks the final sealing of the heavenly gates.
MUHARRAM OCTOBER 1st=starting
|Food typical for this holiday of Muharram from Turkey.|
It pre-dates the holiday. Islam is the 2nd largest religious group in the world.
Mohammad started Islam and died in 632 CE (AD).
For Muslims, the first day of Muharram, which is the first month in the Islamic calendar, marks the start of the Islamic New Year. According to my desk calendar, it starts on October 1st, a Saturday this year. It lasts until October 31st, ending on a Monday. "The festival of Muharram has significant religious importance for Muslims, beginning with the first day, which is known as the Islamic New Year.
"Note that in the Muslim calender, a holiday begins on the sunset of the previous day, so observing Muslims will celebrate Al-Hijra / Muharram on the sunset of Saturday, the 1st of October." "Some Muslim Americans choose to fast during this month, although fasting is not obligatory. Many Muslims engage in voluntary prayer, including evening prayer, during Muharram."
They also have another holiday called Ashura. Note that in the Muslim calendar, a holiday begins on the sunset of the previous day, so observing Muslims will celebrate Ashura on the sunset of Monday, the 10th of October."The Day of Ashura (or Ashurah) is known as the most sacred day in the month of Muharram.
It is the 10th day of Muharram and is a day of fasting for many Sunni Muslims. Many Shi’a Muslims use the day to commemorate the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali in 680 CE. Some Muslims give to charity on this day.
I wish my family and friends a Happy New Year: : שנה טובה
Leshana tovah tikatev v’tichatem” (לשנה טובה תכתב ותחתם). “May you be written and sealed for a good year.” From noon on Rosh Hashanah, when our fates are already written, until Yom Kippur, when our fates for the coming year are to be sealed, we wish each other “Gemar chatimah tovah” (גמר חתימה טובה), “A good final sealing.”
So I also wish my Muslim friends a Happy New Year, and may you also be written in the book of life.
Resource: The Jewish Catalog by Richard Siegel, Michael Strassfeld, Sharon Strassfeld