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L'Shana Tova Chicago!

By Kevin Robinson in News on Sep 13, 2007 5:00PM

Although many of us are at work today, for our Jewish friends sundown yesterday marked the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. It is regarded as the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, and their first actions toward the realization of mankind's role in God's world.

2007_9_synagogue.jpgJudaism has four "new year" observances, each marking a different yearly observance. Rosh Hashanah is the new year for people, animals, and legal contracts. There are many traditions that go with Rosh Hashanah, but the central observance is the sounding of shofar, the ram's horn, which also signifies the people's crowning of God as king of the universe. The sounding of the shofar is also a call to repent, as Rosh Hashanah is also observed as the anniversary of man's first sin and repentance. This marks the first day of the days of repentance, culminating ten days later in Yom Kippur, the day of atonement.

Besides the sounding of shofar, traditional Rosh Hashanah customs include eating a piece of apple dipped in honey to symbolize the desire for a sweet year, and blessing others with the words "L'shanah tovah tikateiv veteichateim," which means "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year." Later this afternoon, you may see Jewish Chicagoans near Lake Michigan practicing the Tashlich, a special prayer said near a body of water while casting out bread, some other food, or even lint from pockets; this is a symbolic casting off of the sins from the year past. Both the word and the practice are derived from Micah 7:18-20, which says "Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea." As with every major Jewish holiday, after candle lighting and prayers, they recite Kiddush and make a blessing on the Challah.

One of the most amazing things about living in such a large urban area is the opportunity that we all have to encounter people that have different beliefs and customs than we do. If you aren't Jewish, today is a chance to reflect on the traditions of a faith that is the foundation of both Christianity and Islam. If you're Jewish, it's a great time to reach out and to share some of your traditions with friends that might not be familiar with your faith. For a list of Chicago synagogues, click here.

Happy New Year, Chicago!

Image via karbon69.