Monday, September 24, 2012

Day of Atonement

(Sept. 24, 2012) Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, will begin at sundown tomorrow, Tuesday, Sept. 25, and continue until sundown the next day. The second of two Jewish high holy days, it falls 10 days after the first, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. The purpose of Yom Kippur is to bring about reconciliation between people and between individuals and God. According to Jewish tradition, it is also the day when God decides the fate of each human being.

Although Yom Kippur is an intense holiday it is nevertheless viewed as a happy day. Those who observe the holiday properly will have made peace with others and with God.

Yom Kippur commemorates the day when God forgave the Jewish people for the sin of the Golden Calf. Forty days after hearing God say at Mount Sinai, “You shall not have the gods of others in My presence; you shall not make for yourself a graven image,” the Jews committed the cardinal sin of idolatry. Moses spent nearly three months on top of the mountain pleading with God for forgiveness, and on the 10th of Tishrei it was finally granted: “I have pardoned, as you have requested.”

From that moment on, this date, henceforth known as the Day of Atonement, is annually observed as a commemoration of this special relationship with God, strong enough to survive any rocky bumps it might encounter. And while it is the most solemn day of the year, Jews are also joyful, confident that God will forgive their sins and seal their verdict for a year of life, health and happiness. The day is marked by prayer, works of charity, temple services and a ceremonial meal.

For more information on the holidays of fall, check out Recorder Community Newspapers and their blogs right here online. Any individual or group representative interested in joining the growing group of Recorder bloggers is invited contact me at (908) 832-7420 or

Saturday, September 22, 2012

First day of fall

(Sept. 22, 2012) Fall for 2012 begins in the Northern Hemisphere today at 10:49 a.m. with the autumnal equinox. The word equinox comes from the Latin words for "equal night." The fall and spring equinoxes are the only days of the year in which the sun crosses the celestial equator and day and night are equal. From here on out, weather temperatures begin to drop and the days start to get shorter than the nights.

Fall brings a myriad of activities from school events to Oktoberfests and more. Check out Recorder Community Newspapers and their blogs right here online for details.

Any individual interested in becoming a Recorder blogger is invited to contact me at (908) 832-7420 or Representatives of community organizations are invited as well. I will be happy to explain the simple process of blogging which is a free 21st century communication tool. All you need is Internet access and an e-mail address.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Happy New Year

(Sept. 15, 2012) Tomorrow night, Sunday, Sept. 16, Jews will begin celebrating one of their most important religious holidays, Rosh Hashanah. The movable holiday remembers the creation of the world. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means the "head of the year." It is also called the Feast of the Trumpets. The blowing of a ram's horn, a shofar, proclaims Rosh Hashanah, and summons Jews to religious services.

Jews used the ram's horn as a trumpet in Biblical times to announce the new moon, holidays and war. Today, a variety of horns are used, including curved antelope horns.

While it does have its festive side, Rosh Hashanah is not one big party, as the New Year's celebrations on Dec. 31 tend to be. Rosh Hashanah is a time for personal introspection and prayer.

Jews also may visit graves. It is thought that the prayers or good wishes of the dead can help the living. By wishing one another other well and sending cards, people let friends know what happened in the past year and what plans lie ahead. Christmas cards and get-togethers fill a similar role for Christians.

Rosh Hashanah is part of a process of spiritual growth. The Hebrew month preceding it, Elul, is a time for charity, tzedakah. Rosh Hashanah falls on the first and second days of the seventh month, Tishri.

Traditional Jewish foods accompany Rosh Hashanah. Typically, a blessing will be said over two loaves of bread, known as challah. The round shape symbolizes a crown, a reminder of the kingship of God. Challah also stands for the circle of life, and the hope that our lives endure without end.

Challah is sometimes baked with a ladder on top in recognition that only God decides who climbs up or down the ladder of life. Forming challah in the shape of a bird also is done. The Torah says that God will protect Jerusalem in the same way a bird hovers.

Apples dipped in honey are another Rosh Hashanah tradition. It symbolizes the hope for a "sweet year" ahead. Honey is spread on challah. Tzimmes, a mixture made from carrots, cinnamon, yams, prunes and honey, also is traditional. Some Jews also present fruit baskets covered to hide the contents, symbolizing that no one can know what the new year will bring.

Rosh Hashanah observances vary. Orthodox Jews celebrate Rosh Hashanah for two days. Reform Jews often observe it for only one day. In Biblical times the moon, not the calendar, determined dates for festivals. Witnesses watching the sky proclaimed the new moon. Since Rosh Hashanah falls on the first day of the month, people living far from Jerusalem did not have time to learn the exact date. Even those living near Jerusalem could miss the festival if the witnesses did not arrive on time. So, two days were set aside for observance so everyone would have time to participate.

Check out your Recorder Community Newspaper for details of what's happening in your town concerning the holiday. Also, Recorder bloggers right here online at share their insights of the times.

Anyone community individual or organization representative interested in becoming a Recorder blogger is invited to call me at (908) 932-7420 or e-mail Blogging is simple and free; all you need is access to the Internet.