What's Rosh Hashanah?

What's Rosh Hashanah?

How does one celebrate the Jewish New Year?
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At sundown on October 2nd, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year’s Day, began. Here’s a fun fact: “Rosh Hashanah” literally means “head of the year”! This Rosh Hashana was the “head” of year 5777 on the Jewish calendar.

Rosh Hashanah, the first of our High Holy Days, commemorates the creation of the world. It’s a time to reflect on the previous year and figure out ways to make the next year even better. This thought process is similar to the resolutions that people make on the secular New Year’s Day in January, but Rosh Hashanah is traditionally full of prayers and religious services instead of parties in Times Square.

But that’s not to say that Rosh Hashanah isn’t a celebratory day! Like other Jewish holidays (except for Yom Kippur, which is a day of fasting), getting together with family for a big feast is also traditional. On Rosh Hashanah, we eat apples dipped in honey to symbolize our hopes for a “sweet” new year. My family also puts extra honey in our challah bread, making an already yummy treat even tastier!

When I was little, I remember my family taking part in another Rosh Hashanah tradition: Tashlikh, or “casting off”. We went to a river and threw small pieces of bread into it, to symbolize “casting off” the past year’s misdeeds and misfortunes.

In the Torah, this holiday is referred to as “Yom Teruah” – “the day of the sounding of the shofar”. A shofar is a kind of trumpet made from a hollowed-out ram’s horn. There are different words for different kinds of notes to play on the shofar, including one long note (tekiah), three shorter notes (shevarim), many quick staccato notes (teruah), and one long loud note that’s held as long as you can blow (tekiah gedolah, literally “the big tekiah”). You can hear a shofar here. The sound of the shofar is meant to draw everyone’s attention and call us to the synagogue. Some say that the sound of the shofar is also a call for repentance, to get us thinking about things we did wrong in the past year. We have ten days to put those thoughts together, because then comes Yom Kippur, our Day of Atonement.

The Talmud says that between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, G-d decides which people’s names should be inscribed in the “Book of Life” or the “Book of Death” for the following year, based on past behavior and current repentance. For this reason, a traditional greeting on Rosh Hashanah is “L’shana tova tikateyvu” – “May you be inscribed for a good year.” Sometimes we shorten it to “Shana tova,” which simply means “Good year.” This is a little different than wishing someone a “happy” new year like we do on January 1st. We want the year ahead of us to be not superficially happy, but good – full of good deeds and achievements, and of opportunities to fix our past misdeeds.

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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My Relationship With Religion Will Never Be Black And White

and that's okay!

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I was raised Christian let's get that out the way. Growing up in a small town I went to Awana (a children's church group Wednesday nights) and then once I was in middle school started youth group that night instead as well as a normal church on Sundays. If you would ask me from me being really young to probably around 15 I was all about church and building a relationship with God.

After leaving public school and growing my presence online and meeting so many people from all walks of life, I started questioning things.

Suddenly, I was immersed in this community with the best people who just loved everyone regardless of gender or sexuality or race and it was the place I was able to come to terms with something I had always repressed, my feelings towards girls.

I knew the moment I started talking to a girl named Laura that I had feelings for her I would normally have for a boy and because of the people I now had around me I just didn't suppress it. I identified online and eventually to family and friends as bisexual.

My questions started with wondering how my god this loving all knowing entity I had always known was un-accepting and promoted the exclusion of the LGBTQ+ community from the Christian faith. I knew that this community was full of the most loving and creative and beautiful people I have ever met and that was the start of me knowing my relationship with God would never be the same.

As I grew up and have become an activist for the things that mean a lot to me I have stopped attending church and have begun to see that I do not want any part in ANY religion that takes part in shunning anyone based on how they identify. I have been vocal about this to many people some more excepting then others but regardless I will never again take part in something that I myself am not 100% accepted within

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