Of Apples, Honey, and the Sound of Shofar

L’ shanah tova!

This is the traditional Hebrew greeting for the Jewish New Year.

As one of the founders of Women Who Speak In Church, I would to wish all my Jewish and Rabbi friends “L’shanah tova“! Yes, here at WWSIC we are not only ecumenical, but for those of us who are chaplains we are interfaith as well!

I can not pretend to present a Jewish understanding of the Jewish New Year, but I can share an experience I had some years ago related this day. At the time I was working as a program coordinator for a Jewish Senior Center. I learned a lot through working in that position, a briefly as I did. But I will not forget the day we took several seniors, some of who no longer drove, to the local lake to participate in the ritual practices related to the Jewish New Year. It was a nice sunny day that year and the local Orthodox Rabbi joined us for the ritual of Tashlikh or “casting off”. My understanding of the ritual is that the Jewish New Year brings a time of casting away the old and welcoming the “sweet” New Year. The Jewish practice of Tashlikh  is one in which individuals write their sins down and then cast them into the water. My experience of seeing the Tashlikh practice first hand touched me because so often we forget to let go of the sins in our past and as human beings we have a tendency to pull those things forward with us until they weigh us down so much that they are holding us back. Being so weighed down by the past that one can no longer move forward is something I encounter as a hospice chaplain. So to know that there is a religious practice that ritually helps us let go of the past intrigues me.

Last night at sun down, marked the beginning of the Jewish New Year. A holiday marked by letting go of the past. A holiday celebrated traditionally by dipping apples in honey to taste the sweetness of the New Year, and the blowing of the Shofar in the synagogue. A holiday that may have a lot to teach us all–regardless of our personal religious traditions.

So happy New Year to all our Jewish and our Rabbi friends. May this day be a sweet new beginning for us all!

The website holiday2.htm was consulted in composing this blog.