High Holy Days

High Holy Days

High Holy Days 2018/5779 – L’Shanah Tovah!

The Jewish High Holy Days are a reflective time of beginnings and endings. We welcome a new year, ripe with hope and opportunity. We close the gates on the year gone by, going deep into our hearts and souls to examine, atone and recommit to doing better. It is a profound process of self-examination and determination to grow and be better in the year ahead.

At Temple Adat Elohim, the High Holy Days typically bring more than 600 families to the synagogue. Members choose from our traditional services or a family service experience. Each of our services is participatory, with members of the congregation leading some prayers, chanting Torah, and accepting many bima honors.

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A Guide to the High Holy Days

What are the “Days of Awe / High Holy Days?”

Rosh Hashanah is the first of the “High Holy Days,” and begins the most spiritually intense part of the Jewish year, the “yamin nora’im,” the “Days of Awe.” The Days of Awe begin on Rosh Hashanah and conclude on Yom Kippur, a total of 10 days. According to tradition, on Rosh Hashanah the wholly righteous are inscribed in the Book of Life. For the rest of us, judgment is suspended until Yom Kippur, when our good works and acts of repentance during those 10 days can tilt the balance in our favor so that we may live. These 10 days are devoted to a careful examination of who we are in an attempt to become cognizant of the ways we have fallen short by failing others, ourselves and God. This is also the time given to ask forgiveness to those we might have hurt or offended during the past year. During this period, emphasis is placed on the sincerity of one’s repentance.

 What do the words “Rosh Hashanah” mean?

Rosh Hashanah is Hebrew for “head of the year” (literally) or “beginning of the year” (figuratively).

Why do we say that this is the year 5779? Isn’t the earth over 4 billion years old?

The traditional Jewish understanding is that the world is 5779 years old this year (some say 5779 years since the time of Adam and Eve). As modern Jews, we mark this as a theological date, not a scientific date.

What is Tashlich?

The word tashlich means to “cast/throw” and is symbolic of self-purification. On Rosh Hashanah it is a tradition to throw pocket lint or bread crumbs into a river or a stream to symbolically cast away our sins.

What does Yom Kippur mean?

Yom Kippur means “Day of Atonement.” It is a day set aside to atone for the sins of the past year. This day is essentially our last appeal, our last chance to change God’s judgment, to demonstrate our repentance and make amends so that we may be written in the Book of Life.

Why is Yom Kippur considered the most serious of Jewish Holidays?

Yom Kippur emphasizes human failings and the need to do teshuvah (repentance). As we focus on teshuvah, we disengage from the life affirming activities of our daily routines, such as eating, and we undergo a process of intense self-reflection. We ask ourselves how we can do better in the eyes of God and other human beings; and we search for wisdom, willpower, and compassion. The process of teshuvah helps to set right some of our wrongdoings, and in so doing, helps us to be partners with God in the creation of a better world.

What is the Jewish definition of sin?

In Judaism, the word “sin” has different connotations than it does in our wider culture. “Sin” in Judaism is generally not something for which a person will be punished in the afterlife, but is rather an improper act for which one can ask forgiveness — not just of God, but (importantly) of other human beings as well.

How do we atone for our sins?

Yom Kippur atones only for sins between humanity and God, not for sins against another person. To atone for sins against another person, we must first seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs we committed against them if possible. This must all be done before the conclusion of Yom Kippur.

How do we greet people during the High Holy Days?

Prior to and during Rosh Hashanah we wish each other “L’Shanah Tovah Tikatayvu” — “May you be inscribed for a good year.” Sometimes we shorten it to “Shanah Tovah” and even the Yiddish, “Gut Yontiff.” Between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur we often say “G’mar Hatimah Tovah” – “May you be sealed for a good year.”


S’lichot and Tashlich Programs

Havdallah & S’lichot Healing Service: A Sacred Time for All

Saturday September 1st, 7:00 PM – Social Hall

The observation of S’lichot, the traditional prayers recited in the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah, will be held at Temple Adat Elohim.

One of the most inspirational services of the High Holy Days season is the S’lichot service which will take place on Saturday night, September 1st. Join us at 7:00 PM for refreshments where you will have the opportunity to schmooze with friends and family. At 7:45 PM we will gather under the stars in our courtyard to bid farewell to Shabbat with our Havdallah service; at 8:00 PM we will move into our sanctuary for our traditional S’lichot Healing Service.

To comprehend the profound idea of forgiveness – we must seek ways to change, to reflect and to renew ourselves with others and with God during this time of the year. It is through liturgy, rituals and communal worship that can help us in this process.

During our service, we will witness the ritual of changing the Torah covers to the white ones, congregants will be invited to lead readings, our clergy will offer private blessings on the bimah to anyone who wishes to receive them. In addition, this is a unique opportunity to gather together during this sacred time of healing and meditation as we prepare ourselves to enter the upcoming High Holy Days season of 5779.

“Tashlich” service is the symbolic casting of sins into the water and is to be held on Monday, September 10, at 5:00 PM.

The TAE community invites you to join us, along with Jewish communities around the globe, in this generations old ritual where we gather as a community on the First Day of Rosh Hashanah at bodies of water and recite the Tashlich Prayer, which consists of selected chapters of Tehillim (Psalms) and the verses shown above, to symbolize our wish to get rid of our sins, and to be forgiven by God.