Religious : : Religious Committee Report

As you shop for Jewish New Year’s cards, which are conveniently available in the Temple Judea gift shop by appointment only, here is a historical perspective of Rosh Hashanah.

The origins of Rosh Hashanah are found in the bible. The Book of Leviticus declares “In the seventh month (Tishrei), on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of rest, a memo- rial proclaimed with the blowing of the shofar, a holy convocation.” The name “Rosh Hasha- nah” is not used in the bible to discuss this holiday. The bible refers to this holiday as Yom HaZikkaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom T’ruah (the day of the sounding of the shofar).

In ancient times, there were four different New Years on the Jewish calendar; each had a distinct significance:

– The first of the Hebrew month of Nisan was the date used to calculate the number of years a given king
had reigned.
– The first of the Hebrew month of Elul was the new year for tithing of cattle.
– The first of the Hebrew month of Tishrei was the agricultural new year.
– The 15th of the Hebrew month of Sh’vat was the new year of the trees.

In 586 BCE Solomon’s Temple (the First Temple) was destroyed and the Jews were exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon. The Babylonians observed a “Day of Judgment” each year. They believed that on that day a convocation of the gods renewed the world and judged each human being, inscribing the fate of every indi- vidual on the tablet of destiny. This legend was very powerful and Jews most likely incorporated this theme into the belief that on Rosh Hashanah the one true God judges every Jew – immediately inscribing the com- pletely righteous in the Book of Life and consigning the completely wicked to a sad fate. Those “in be- tween” have 10 days (concluding on Yom Kippur) to repent before the Book of Life is sealed for the New Year.

It was not until about year 200 of the common era that the holiday acquired the name Rosh Hashanah when this terminology first appeared in the Mishnah, the earliest written Jewish code of law.

It is not too early to wish you and your family a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year. – Stay safe.

Sandy Shapiro and Arnold Miller, Co-Chairs