Customs to Welcome the New Year

By Wendy Goldberg, Assistant Director of Jewish Life/Mashgiah Ruhani  

September 26, 2019  

Elul 5779

Though we’ve been in school for five weeks already, this week we turn our attention to the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. To begin our school year, Heilicher faculty studied the words, “keva” (fixed), “kavannah” (spiritual intention), and “minhag” (custom). We have fixed prayers, such as the Shema, prayers with specific spiritual intentions, such as Debbie Friedman’s Mi Shebeirach healing prayer, which is based on a fixed prayer, and customs that have developed over time, but feel like fixed “laws”, such as inviting people to say the Torah blessings (aliya) when celebrating something.

As a staff we’ve been talking about our customs (minhagim) for Rosh Hashanah, those customs that have an element of keva (fixed) in our lives by repeating them each year, but are filled with great kavannah (intentions), and they include:

  • Doing a personal tashlikh ceremony. Where we all write down what behaviors we want to get rid of for the coming year and what we want to accomplish in the year ahead. We cast out the ideas into the pond behind our house.
  • Writing a letter to each of our kids reflecting on the year that has passed.
  • Doing Kapparot, the custom of swinging a chicken over our heads to symbolically rid ourselves of our sins. Since this is not readily available in the US, we swing coins over our head to give to tzedakah.
  • Going to an apple orchard.
  • Having the whole family say they’re sorry to each other for specific challenges all at once--quite the scene!

What is your minhag (custom) for the High Holy Days?    

To a sweet new year! L'Shana Tova Tikateivu!  לשנה טובה תכתבו! 

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