New Year and Day of Atonement

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur – Sept 19th – 28th, 2009

With the California Gold Rush in full swing, numbers of Jewish settlers of mainly Hungarian and German descent emigrated to the western states, including to Utah. They came overland and they came by ship around the Cape Horn and down through San Francisco. They looked for a place to practice their faith. The earliest record of Jewish religious observance in the area is the celebration of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) in 1864 at the home of one of the Jewish merchants. This same year saw the first cemetery, on land deeded to the Jewish community by Brigham Young. High Holyday (Rosh Hashonah [New Year] and Yom Kippur [Day of Atonement] services in 1867 were observed in the Seventies Hall (inset) at the invitation of Brigham Young.

By Ralph M. Tannenbaum

The first day of the Jewish New Year comes in September. Rosh Hashonah – head of the year – in the lunar calendar: 5770, is celebrated with joy and solemnity. I recall many happy times at home and in synagogue during my childhood. It was a time of celebrating the greatness of God and the goodness of life, a time of promised intentions for future abundance. At the same time our parents and rabbis chastised us to never forget the dangers of self-aggrandizement, but to more abundantly offer our thanksgiving only to God, for that is the day He remembers our deeds and sits in judgement. We blow the shofar and eat hamentashen!

How well He knows us, for during the ten days following our great joy at a new year, restitution comes due. Those Days of Awe are a period of introspection and repentance, a time of honestly reviewing our lives, asking forgiveness for sins of omission and commission from anyone we have offended. Hopefully we will receive His forgiveness, or we cannot lift our heads with joy (and relief). Restitution must be made, penance must be paid before the books of judgement close for the year at the final hour of Yom Kippur. We pray Ha Shem (the Name) will receive to His bosom once again His wayward, but loving children.
Yom Kippur reminds the pious how Avraham was reprieved after offering his son in sacrifice. Very solemn, with anguish, it recapitulates the long history of violence and humiliation to which Jews have been subjected. Yom Kippur is really in similitude of Christ’s atonement, where in the days of the temple a goat was selected to be the scapegoat with the sins of the people cast upon it. After elaborate prayer by the priest, it was sent into the wilderness. The Shema is said and the shofar (ram’s horn) is blown just before sunset to signify the end of the sacred event.

Dear Reader, learn about these holidays of Judaism and wish your Jewish friends well on Rosh Hashonah, but leave them to themselves as the moon rises upon Yom Kippur, for the Jewish heart turns privately to its God for the most sacred and solemn conversation of the year.

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Posted by Marlena Tanya Muchnick Labels:

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