Rosh HaShanah | Reconstructing Judaism
Rosh HaShanah

 

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

Related Resources

Rabbi Fredi Cooper's challah recipe

Cuisine, Rosh HaShanah

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.

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.

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.

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.

D'VAR TORAH
Genesis 12:1-17:27

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

D'VAR TORAH
Genesis 21:1 – 22:24

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.

D'VAR TORAH
Genesis 21:1 – 22:24

Kavvanah for shofar blowing on the 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.

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