L’shanah Tovah, and a happy new year from me to you! As Jews Rosh Hashanah is one of the holiest holidays, meaning “first of the year,” it commemorates the creation of the world. Rosh Hashanah also begins the 10-day period of consciousness and reflection, which culminates with the celebration of Yom Kippur. It is on Yom Kippur when we are encouraged to take these reflections and make amends with our sins and actions that occurred over the past year.
These celebrations are known as the two “High Holidays” in Jewish religion and typically fall between September/October. For me personally, the timing of the year alongside the opportunity to ruminate on my religious and cultural experiences from the past year came at the perfect moment. As I am about to embark on a new journey of creating this blog and telling direct stories about my trip to Israel this summer, I am excited to begin the new year by incorporating my newfound appreciation toward my background into my everyday life in the United States.
Since I am now back at the University of Iowa, I was not near my home temple to attend any formal services or spend time with family at our seder. This upset me since I felt like I could not fulfill my new internal promise of celebrating my religion more, so ultimately I started brainstorming small things I could do during this 10-day period to show my regards for the high holidays.
One of the most popular customs on Rosh Hashanah involves eating apple slices dipped in honey, usually after saying a prayer, in which both items symbolize healing and hope to a sweet new year!! This snack was super easy to whip up in my kitchen so it was a go-to activity for the week. I am also lucky to have a handful of close friends on campus who are Jewish as well, so I made sure to send text messages to Skyler, Abby and Kendall wishing them a happy new year!
Once again Yom Kippur is the ending where we atone our sins, and as Jews that means fasting for 25 hours. Fasting as in no food, no drink, from one sundown to the next nightfall. Now trust me I encountered many sins in the past year, but even the freeing enlightenment I felt in Israel was not enough to challenge me to fast this year. Do you even know the stress and craziness of a Junior college student?! I need food to get through these days. Although I still wanted to start the new year with a cleanse toward my mind and body, so I scheduled time in my days to go to the rec center and run or walk on the treadmill and then spend time sitting in the sauna to let my thoughts and feelings sweat out of my body.
For me 5778 was filled with ups and downs, but through it all, I learned a lot. Thank you to all my friends and family for a great year, here’s to a happy and healthy 5779!