fbpx High Holidays | Reconstructing Judaism
High Holidays

 

The Hebrew name given to the holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is Yamim Nora'im, the Days of Awe. At the heart of our preparations for the Days of Awe is the concept of change and transformation. Jewish tradition understands that human beings are not perfect. We make mistakes that affect others as well as ourselves, but these errors of judgment, omission and commission need not remain with us forever. On Rosh Hashana, we celebrate life and the possibility of new beginnings. We affirm the freedom and responsibility we have to conduct our lives with decency and morality. On Yom Kippur, we focus on the mistakes we make when we fail to exercise our freedom with responsibility. We seek atonement and forgiveness for our mistakes, and we experience the fragility of life. We realize that we want to make a meaningful difference by the way we live our lives while we still can.1

 

  • 1. Adapted from A Guide to Jewish Practice, Volume 2—Shabbat and Holidays

Related Resources

Rabbi Toba Spitzer explores the obstacles to prayer posed by stale language about God, and suggests new language that may ease our way in finding connection.

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.

In this Rosh Hashanah video message, Rabbi Deborah Waxman, president of Reconstructing Judaism, explores the ways in which remembering the past is crucial to moving forward into a sweet New Year. 

High Holidays

At Rosh Hashanah, as we turn to new beginnings, we seek to repent—to do teshuvah—for what we have done wrong. And we can also affirmatively foster ourselves toward resilience—toward a thriving, loving outlook in spite of whatever challenges we encounter in life. In this video, I explore themes of resilience embedded into Jewish practice.

Examination of Rabbi Kelilah Miller's papercut, "Human, Why Do You Sleep?"

Art, High Holidays, Spirituality

We welcome your submission for the High Holidays on the theme of "Embracing the Stranger — Within and Without." Deadline is July 17, 2017!

Study sheet on the different interpretations of "sin" throughout Jewish history.
Textual Sources, High Holidays
D'VAR TORAH
Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20
Study sheet on the relationship between Parashat Nitzavim and themes of teshuvah.

This study sheet on teshuvah and compassion draws our attention to the interplay between our ability to forgive others, and God's ability to forgive us. 

This study sheet contains two parables of the King and the returning son by the Baal Shem Tov, as well one of Kafka's parables, "The Imperial Messenger," which has some intriguing echoes of and stark contrasts with the first two stories.

Textual Sources, High Holidays
D'VAR TORAH
Leviticus 16:1-34; 18: 1-30

A study sheet on the evolving concept of teshuvah over the ages.

D'VAR TORAH
Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20

A text study on Parshat Nitzavim on teshuvah, featuring teachings from Itturei Torah and Rabbi Sandy Roth (of blessed memory).

Textual Sources, High Holidays

In this video, Rabbi Deborah Waxman offers a High Holiday message of hope in spite of the problems confronting the world and the personal travails we all face.

The month of Elul, which immediately precedes the Yamim Nora’im,  is a time of preparation and introspection with many associated practices. 

A Jewish understanding of sin, repentance, and forgiveness

Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are for many the most solemn and significant days on the Jewish calendar, the days when many more Jews gather for prayer than at any other time of the year. The Hebrew name given to these holidays is Yamim Nora’im, the Days of Awe.

An archive of discussions about High Holiday children's and youth services

A perspective on forgiveness as a spiritual practice as well as a moral act

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.

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.

Elsie Stern looks back on the fall Jewish holidays, and ahead to a year of productive conversations at RRC.

Subscribe to RSS - High Holidays