By Eugenia Gentsis, MHWOW Program Specialist
One of the most exciting things about Judaism is that each new month has its own unique energy. The energy of the upcoming month of Tishrei offers us the opportunity to awaken all our senses through the customs, traditions, and dishes for every holiday celebrated in this most spiritual month of the year.
During the Chagim (Jewish holidays), Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah around this time, I always feel that we are closing a cycle and starting a new one; that we are in a continuous, circular process, and that the chance to begin and end is ever-present. This feeling is reinforced by the fact that this year marks the ending of a Shmita year and we are starting a new 7-year cycle again.
We start with introspection before and during Rosh Hashanah. This process allows us to think of the past year, reflect on it, and reach the necessary spiritual balance for the coming year. We analyze and see what can be corrected on Yom Kippur and reconnect with nature and think about the intangible on Sukkot. Finally, we finish this entire festive period with joyful dances at the celebration of Simchat Torah. This bright time of the year gives us the opportunity to experience different feelings, emotions, and impressions that will stay with us for the whole year.
Especially now, I encourage you to live all the High Holidays this year more intensely. Do it your way: connect with your communities for the most inspiring ways to feel the start of a new cycle and year by experiencing them through your senses.
Whether you are celebrating with friends or family, we can complement our celebrations with events related to the themes of these major holidays.
On Rosh Hashanah, listen to the shofar, and learn more about the meaning of this holiday, and its symbols. Get together at home or organize a picnic. Eat a piece of round challah along with a piece of apple dipped in honey, try a new fruit, or cook a new recipe. Let your taste guide you!
On Yom Kippur, reflect on the past year, pray, meditate together, study something new, or abstain from some food or luxuries, or habits. Devote these days to introspection and plan a spiritually meaningful program for yourself and your community.
On Sukkot, go out into nature, breathe in the freshness of an etrog, hold a lulav, and go to a Sukkah that you built or one that is available in your city. Think together about the importance of intangible things.
And finally, end the High Holidays with a bang by dancing on Simchat Torah to celebrate your Judaism and feel connected to the community you have created during this eventful and challenging year.
We hope you celebrate the month of Tishrei in your own way and contact us if you need help putting together the perfect plan for this festive season! Chag Sameach!