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Rosh Hashanah

Jewish Time

Rosh HaShana, the Jewish New Year, focuses on God’s judgment and ultimately on a new beginning for humanity: hayom harat olam—the day the world is born anew. The major themes of Rosh HaShana are the creation of the world, the sovereignty of God, divine judgment and remembrance. These themes present an opportunity to identify the creativity that persists every day—the sovereignty of God as the power or energy in the universe that makes for a renewal of humanity, of the world and of community. It becomes the responsibility of humanity to make manifest “God’s Kingdom” on earth through acting upon our moral principles and values in order to bring about justice, peace and beauty for all people.1

  • 1. Adapted from A Guide to Jewish Practice, Volume 2—Shabbat and Holidays. The Guide may be ordered from the Reconstructionist Press.

Rosh HaShanah Resources

News and Blogs

A High Holiday Message

The Talmud tells us that God created repentance (teshuvah) before creating the physical world. As Billy Joel once sang, “we’re only human, we’re supposed to make mistakes.” It’s how we respond to mistakes, how we grow, that matters. This video explores the twin themes of teshuvah and gratitude (hakarat hatov.) Our tradition offers us practices that cultivate self-reflection and humility, relationship and repair. We hope these words offer some comfort and guidance as you undergo your own process of teshuvah and, in meaningful relationships with others, make Godliness present in the world.

News

The Shofar and the Tears of Our Mothers

Kavvanah for shofar blowing on the High Holidays

Article

Hagar the Stranger

To love the stranger represents an outrageous leap out of the typical moral economy, in which we do kindnesses and expect to be repaid in kind. In loving the stranger, we transcend self-interest.

Sermon

Hagar: The Immigrant Worker

This provocative Rosh Hashanah sermon draws parallels between Hagar, Sarah’s mistreated servant, and today’s immigrant workers.

Sermon

For The Sake Of The World

Rabbi Toba Spitzer grapples wtih the traditional notion of Jewish chosenness, arguing that our Torah is integral to the maintenance and perfection of this world—even as we acknowledge that other people’s teachings, other people’s truths, are also a path to redemption. It matters that  Judaism survives—not just for our own sake, but because it’s good for the world, and because we have unique work to do.

Sermon

Being Part of the Universe

In these excerpts from the diaries of Mordecai Kaplan, the message of Rosh Hashanah is reframed as one of radical responsibility to a higher calling.

Sermon

Fall Holiday Glossary

This file contains a helpful glossary of terms for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shmini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. It begins with a letter to parents suggesting themes to think about during the holiday season.

Document

High Holiday Liturgy

Rabbi Alan LaPayover (RRC ‘02), recorded the prayers of the Reconstructionist liturgy for the High Holiday services. The sound files are available for listening and download from links on this page.

Article

Rabbi Fredi's Challah

Rabbi Fredi Cooper's challah recipe

Article