Ushpizin

Ushpizin

According to the kaballah, the Jewish mystical tradition, the Divine Presence (Shechina) accompanies every Jew into the sukkah. The Shechina is accompanied by the seven shepherds of Israel: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aharon, and David. Why are these seven personalities invited into the sukkah?

The Sukkah, the temporary dwelling, reminds Jews of the time of wandering in the wilderness. Each of the seven ushpizin lived through their own exile under the guidance of G-d.

1) Abraham – went forth from his homeland and his father’s house to go to Canaan, the unknown place that G-d would show him (Genesis).
2) Isaac – went to Gerar in the Kingdom of Philistia when there was famine (Genesis).
3) Jacob – left his home to protect himself from his brother and to find a wife (Genesis).
4) Joseph – was sold into slavery and taken to Egypt (Genesis)
5) Moses – led the nation out of slavery in Egypt, through the wilderness and to the borders of the Promised Land (Exodus).
6) Aharon -led the nation in the wilderness in his role as High Priest (Exodus).
7) David – was driven into the wilderness to avoid the wrath of Saul (I Samuel).

Each of the seven ushpizin also personify character traits which strengthen the Divine Presence in this world:

1) Abraham – loving-kindness
2) Isaac – inner strength
3) Jacob – truth
4) Joseph – righteousness
5) Moses – Divine eternity
6) Aharon – Divine grandeur
7) David – Divine sovereignty

Sukkot

Sukkot is a time for celebration! Immediately following Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is the week-long holiday of Sukkot, also known as the Feast of the Tabernacles.

Learn more

Programs and Classes

Host or attend the exciting Sukkot programs and classes provided by NJOP and find out how you or your community can participate.

Resources

Discover, read and download our comprehensive guides and walkthroughs, watch videos and learn about the various aspects of Sukkot.

Articles

Browse our collection of Sukkot Jewish Treats, filled with interesting stories and articles about the histories and traditions of Sukkot.


The Sukkah

The Sukkah

The Sukkah Leviticus 23:42-43 – You shall dwell in sukkot seven days, every citizen in Israel shall dwell in sukkot, so that your descendants shall know that I caused the children of Israel to dwell in sukkot when I brought them out of the land of Egypt.
For the first seven days of Sukkot, Jews are obligated to dwell in their sukkot. But what is a sukkah?

The Physical Structure

A Sukkah is a temporary structure. While some of its walls may be permanent, the roof may not.) A Sukkah must have at least 2 + stable walls, although it is best if there are 4 walls.

While the walls may be made of cloth or canvas, they must be taut and bound tight enough that the walls will not sway in the wind.
The roof of the sukkah must be temporary. The roof of the sukkah is made from sechach. Sechach is defined as parts of a plant that are now detached from the ground, such as branches or bamboo stalks.

i) The roof materials cannot have been previously used as a utensil, such as boards from a dismantled crate.
ii) The material cannot be edible and should not be malodorous.
The walls of the sukkah must be in place before the sechach is placed on top. The sechach must sufficiently cover the sukkah so that there is more shade than light, but should not block out the sky completely. The sukkah should not be built under a tree, roof or awning.

It is customary to decorate and beautify the sukkah, which is an excellent way of involving children in the holiday.

Dwelling in the Sukkah

During the week of Sukkot, the sukkah becomes one’s temporary dwelling and, therefore, weather permitting, everything that one would do in one’s house, such as eat, sleep or study, is done in the sukkah.

1) All meals must be eaten in the sukkah. Snacks, however, may be eaten outside the sukkah, but preferably not grains.
2) One who is ill is not obligated to sleep or eat in the sukkah.
3) One is not obligated to suffer through bad weather or to put oneself in danger to be in the sukkah.
4) When one eats a meal in the sukkah, one should make the following blessing:

Baruch atah Ado-nai, Ehlo-haynu melech Ha-olam, asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzeevanu leishev ba’sukkah.
Blessed are you L-rd, our G-d ruler of the world, who sanctified us through His commandments and commanded us to dwell in the sukkah.

Symbolism of the Sukkah

A) The sukkah represents the temporary dwellings of the Jew wandering in the wilderness.
B) The sukkah represents the Ananei HaKavod, the Clouds of Glory, in which G-d enveloped and protected the wandering nation after the Exodus from Egypt.
C) By moving out of our permanent domiciles, especially at the beginning of the rainy/cold season, Jews demonstrate their faith in G-d as provider and sustainer of all life.

Sukkot

Sukkot is a time for celebration! Immediately following Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is the week-long holiday of Sukkot, also known as the Feast of the Tabernacles.

Learn more

Programs and Classes

Host or attend the exciting Sukkot programs and classes provided by NJOP and find out how you or your community can participate.

Resources

Discover, read and download our comprehensive guides and walkthroughs, watch videos and learn about the various aspects of Sukkot.

Articles

Browse our collection of Sukkot Jewish Treats, filled with interesting stories and articles about the histories and traditions of Sukkot.


Sukkot

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Sukkot

The holiday of Sukkot, known as the Feast of the Tabernacles, or the liturgy Zman Simchatainu, the time of our rejoicing.

Happy Sukkot!

The first month of the Jewish year (Tishrei) is also the busiest month of the Jewish year. Immediately following Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is the week-long holiday of Sukkot, also known as the Feast of the Tabernacles. It is called in the liturgy Zman Simchatainu, the time of our rejoicing.

Now that the Jewish people have repented on Yom Kippur and, hopefully, received Divine forgiveness, Sukkot follows as the time for celebrating G-d’s presence in the world. By living in temporary dwellings and taking the four species (the two primary mitzvot of Sukkot) Jews acknowledge that G-d provides for our physical needs as well as our spiritual needs.

Origin of Sukkot

During the week of Sukkot, when the Temple stood in Jerusalem, 70 oxen were sacrificed. The rabbis taught that these 70 oxen represent the original 70 nations of the world. The priests offered sin offerings for the nations, invoking a desire for universal atonement, peace and harmony. Sukkot, therefore, is actually a truly universal holiday.

The holiday, however, does not end abruptly since G-d commanded that an eighth day be added which will also be Yom Tov, a festival day, specifically for the Jewish people. This holiday, known as Sh’mini Atzeret, the Gathering of the Eighth, is seen as the holiday which demonstrates G-d’s especial love for the Jewish people – comparable to a host asking his/her best friend to stay after everyone else has left, in order to share a private moment.

Guide to Celebrating Sukkot

Welcome to Jewish Treats Guide to Celebrating Sukkot. From the symbolic meaning of the four species to guidelines for building a sukkah, Jewish Treats Guide to Celebrating Sukkot offers it all– inspiring insights, enticing recipes and suggestions on how to celebrate the holiday known as Z’man Sim’chah’tay’nu, the Time of our Rejoicing. We hope that you will use this guide to truly enhance your own Sukkot celebration.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Print the Jewish Treats Guide to Celebrating Sukkot or use the interface on this page to view or download.

Resources

Sukkot Programs

Discover our exciting Sukkot programs in which you can celebrate, participate, or offer in your community.

Sukkot Workshop

This Workshop brings to life the happiest time of year on the Jewish calendar. This exceptional, interactive program includes questions, source material and. illuminating answers..

COVID-19 | Program Status

Out of an abundance of caution due to the spread of the Coronavirus and heeding the recommendation of medical professionals to forgo large gatherings for the time being, NJOP will not be going forward with our Sukkot Across America Program this year. We hope to reinstate the initiative in future years. We pray for the speedy and complete recovery of all those who have contracted the virus and the safety of all others.

Thank you for your understanding.

Sukkot Across America

The holiday of Sukkot is known as Zman Simchatainu, the Time of our Rejoicing. So let’s celebrate together! You’re invited to join NJOP for Sukkot Across America!
In this uplifting event, participants are welcomed…

Send us message to have us contact you about running any of our Sukkot programs or call 1-800-44-HEBREW.


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Spirituality at Your Fingertips

Judaism

The Spirituality at Your Fingertips series provides you with a concise, uplifting and meaningful explanation of Shabbat rituals and practice. It is hoped that the guides will help you learn about essential Shabbat practices, enabling you to experience the beauty of Shabbat in your own home.

*We’d love for you to be able to enjoy these guides on Shabbat, as well as during the week. To use it on Shabbat, be sure to print your copy before sunset on Friday to stay within the Shabbat spirit.

Welcoming Shabbat:

A Guide to Shabbat Candle Lighting

Here is a great way to take a bit of the Shabbat experience and make it your own. Bring some of the radiance and spirituality of Shabbat into your home each Friday by learning about and lighting Shabbat candles. Our Guide will provide you with inspiration and illumination to welcome Shabbat with candlelight. Your Friday nights will never be the same.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Print A Guide to Shabbat Candle Lighting or use the interface on this page to view or download.

Sanctifying Shabbat:

A Guide to Kiddush and Ha'mo'tzee

Learn why we drink wine as part of Kiddush and recite the Hamotzee blessing and eat Challah each Shabbat. In this comprehensive overview, you’ll discover the reasons behind these Shabbat practices, the significance of the underlying laws and customs.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Print A Guide to Kiddush and Ha'Mo'Tzee or use the interface on this page to view or download.

Enjoying Shabbat:

A Guide to the Shabbat Meals

Ever wonder what makes the three meals of Shabbat so special? Could it be the special foods, the songs that are sung, the invited guests and the special practices and blessings at the end of the meal? You’ll find out after reading this wonderful description of the Shabbat meals.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Print A Guide to the Shabbat Meals or use the interface on this page to view or download.

Leaving Shabbat:

A Guide To Havdalah and the Post-Shabbat Experience

Shabbat ends when the sun has fully set on Saturday night, but Jewish tradition carries the holiness into the week. In this guide, you will find everything from a detailed guide of the Havdalah ceremony to introductions to unique aspects specific to Saturday night.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Print A Guide to Havdalah and the Post-Shabbat Experience or use the interface on this page to view or download.

Shabbat

The Jewish Sabbath has been called an “oasis in time.” This heavenly gift is a unique opportunity for spiritual and psychological renewal that comes every week!

Learn more

Programs and Classes

Host or join one of our renowned Shabbat programs, and find out how you, your family and your community can participate.

Resources

Discover, read, share and download our Jewish Treats Guide to Shabbat, a fantastic resource to the Day of Rest.

Articles

Browse our collection of Shabbat Jewish Treats, filled with interesting stories and articles about Shabbat.


The Fast Of Gedaliah (Tzom Gedaliah)

Tzom Gedaliah

The Fast of Gedaliah

Table of Contents

What

The Fast of Gedaliah is observed to commemorate of the murder of Gedaliah the son of Achikam, which is described in the last chapter of the Second Book of Kings. This murder resulted in the final Babylonian exile and destruction:

After the first Holy Temple was destroyed and the Babylonians had driven the majority of the Jewish people into exile, a small minority of Jews were permitted to remain in the Land of Israel. Also, Jews who had fled during the war returned and began to work the land.
Nebuchadnetzar, the King of Babylon, appointed Gedaliah to be the governor over the remaining population.
The King of Ammon, a neighboring country, was vying for control over the Land of Israel against the Babylonians. He commissioned Yishmael the son of Netanyah to remove Gedaliah.
Murder! Yishmael, who was a descendant of King David, came to the town of Mitzpeh and murdered Gedaliah and all those that were with him.
In fear of retribution for the murder of the appointed governor, the remaining Jews fled the Land of Israel, thus completing the exile.

When

The Fast of Gedaliah is observed on the third day of Tishrei, the day after Rosh Hashanah. The fast begins at the break of dawn and ends at nightfall.

* Some people will get up before dawn and have an early morning breakfast (but this is only permitted if a decision to do so is verbally expressed the night before).

Do’s and Don’ts

1) During the duration of the fast, eating and drinking are prohibited.

2) Unlike Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av (The Day of Atonement and the Ninth of Av), bathing, annointing, marital relations and wearing leather are permitted.

3) Pregnant and nursing women, and others with health considerations may be exempt from fasting (please consult your rabbi). Children under the age of bar/bat mitzvah (13 for boys, 12 for girls) are not required to fast.

4) Special prayers are added to the synagogue services:

a) Selichot (Penitential Prayers) and Avinu Malkeinu (Our Father, Our King) are recited.
b) At the morning service, Exodus 32:11-14 and 34: 1-10 are read from the Torah.
c) The Aneinu prayer asking for special forgiveness is added to the morning and afternoon services by the cantor. An individual who is fasting includes Aneinu when saying Mincha.

5) If the third of Tishrei falls out on Shabbat, the fast is postponed until Sunday, as it is forbidden to fast on Shabbat (with the exception of Yom Kippur).

High Holidays

Participate in one of our renowned, interactive High Holiday Beginners Service programs or workshops this holiday season.  We’ll help you host a program with our comprehensive materials and videos or find one to attend.

Learn more

Rosh Hoshana

The Jewish New Year starts with a celebration of the very creation of the world and a recognition of humankind’s relationship to the Creator.

Learn more

Yom Kippur

The High Holidays culminate with The Day of Atonement.
There is a mysticism in that almost all Jews recognize the holiness of the day.

Learn more

Articles

Browse our collection of High Holiday Jewish Treats, filled with interesting stories and articles about Jewish histories and traditions.

Read more

Shofar Service

Shofar Service

“…it shall be declared a holiday for you, a day of sounding a teruah for you”
(Numbers 29:1).

Teruah is the word for one of the sounds of the shofar.

    • The shofar is made from the horn of a ram. A special person to serve as the Shofar blower is designated for the holiday. This person has studied the various laws of the shofar service and is trained to properly maintain strong consistent sounds.
    • The shofar is not sounded on Shabbat.
    • It is a Torah obligation to hear the shofar during the Rosh Hashana Mussaf service (the additional service). If one is unable to attend services, during the daytime one may:Find out what time the shofar will be blown and go specifically to hear the shofar blown and then return home.

Check with the local synagogue if there will be a special shofar sounding for people who miss it in the morning.
Have someone blow the shofar for him/her privately.

There are three types of shofar blasts:

Tekiah – the long, solid blast.

      • The tekiah sound is like the blast of the trumpet at a king’s coronation, reminding us that G-d is the King of Kings.
      • The tekiah is a strong note of joyous happiness, to remind us that we are standing before G-d, our Maker, who loves us and judges us with mercy.

Shevarim – the three medium-length blasts

      • The shevarim is reminiscent of deep sighs or soft crying, (where one is gasping for breath).
      • The shevarim is the beginning of the recognition of all that G-d does for us, and all that we could be doing, thus the sighing sound.

Teruah – the 9 quick blasts

      • The teruah evokes the feeling of short piercing cries of wailing.
      • The teruah is the recognition that the year is closing and that the time for teshuva will soon pass.

Tekiah Gedolah – Final Blast
The elongated, solid note that is blown as the last blast of the shofar service. The regular tekiah is a note of joy – the tekiah gedolah is a triumphant shout that reaches out to the hearts of all to assure them that their prayers have been heard.

High Holidays

Participate in one of our renowned, interactive High Holiday Beginners Service programs or workshops this holiday season.  We’ll help you host a program with our comprehensive materials and videos or find one to attend.

Learn more

Rosh Hoshana

The Jewish New Year starts with a celebration of the very creation of the world and a recognition of humankind’s relationship to the Creator.

Learn more

Yom Kippur

The High Holidays culminate with The Day of Atonement.
There is a mysticism in that almost all Jews recognize the holiness of the day.

Learn more

Articles

Browse our collection of High Holiday Jewish Treats, filled with interesting stories and articles about Jewish histories and traditions.

Read more

Symbolic Foods

Symbolic Foods

There is a certain meaning and prayer behind each kind of symbolic food. See if one of the foods holds a deeper connection for you.

Apples and Honey

A slice of apple is dipped in honey.

The blessing for the fruit of the tree is recited:

Baruch atah Ado-nai, Ehlo-haynu melech Ha-olam, Borai p’ree ha’aitz.
“Blessed are you L-rd, our G-d ruler of the world, Creator of the fruit of the tree.”

Take a bite and then recite the following brief prayer:

“May it be Your will, Hashem, our G-d and the G-d of our forefathers, that You renew for us a good and sweet year.”

Dates

(t’marim – from the word for “to consume”)

“May it be Your will, Hashem, our G-d and the G-d of our forefathers, that our enemies be consumed.”
ome people eat the date first because it is one of the fruits for which the Land of Israel is known.

Squash

(kara – from the word for “to tear”)

“May it be Your will, Hashem, our G-d and the G-d of our forefathers, that the decree of our sentence be torn asunder; and may our merits be proclaimed before You.”

Black-eyed Peas

(rubia – from the word for “increase”) or,

Carrots

(merrin, in Yiddish – from the word “more”)

“May it be Your will, Hashem, our G-d and the G-d of our forefathers, that our merits increase.”

Raisins and Celery

(this is a recent, somewhat humorous, English addition)

“May it be Your will to grant us a “raise in salary.”

Pomegranates

It is said that each pomegranate has 613 seeds, representing the 613 commandments of the Torah:

“May it be Your will, Hashem, our G-d and the G-d of our forefathers, that our merits be as plentiful as the seeds of a pomegranates.”

Fish

A fish is considered to be a symbol of fertility and blessing:

“May it be Your will, Hashem, our G-d and the G-d of our forefathers, that we be fruitful and multiply like fish.”

Head of a Sheep/Fish:

Some have a custom to have the head of a sheep or a fish on the table and to say:

“May it be Your will, Hashem, our G-d and the G-d of our forefathers, that we be as the head and not as the tail.”

Nuts

On Rosh Hashana, nuts are not eaten since the numeric value of the word for nut, egoz, is equivalent to the numeric value for the word for sin, chet.

High Holidays

Participate in one of our renowned, interactive High Holiday Beginners Service programs or workshops this holiday season.  We’ll help you host a program with our comprehensive materials and videos or find one to attend.

Learn more

Rosh Hoshana

The Jewish New Year starts with a celebration of the very creation of the world and a recognition of humankind’s relationship to the Creator.

Learn more

Yom Kippur

The High Holidays culminate with The Day of Atonement.
There is a mysticism in that almost all Jews recognize the holiness of the day.

Learn more

Articles

Browse our collection of High Holiday Jewish Treats, filled with interesting stories and articles about Jewish histories and traditions.

Read more

Yom Kippur-The Day

Customs and Laws

A. Yom Kippur is a Yom Tov, a festival day, which is observed like Shabbat.

B. Afflicting your soul – “…on the tenth of the month, you shall afflict your souls and do no work at all…for on that day will G-d forgive you and cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before G-d” (Leviticus 16:29-30). How does one afflict one’s soul and why? The oral law enumerates five prohibitions as the way to “afflict your soul” on Yom Kippur: eating and drinking, washing, anointing, wearing leather shoes and marital relations. By refraining from these actions, one is reminded that it is the spirit that must be the focus, not the body. It may seem the opposite is true, that a person would focus on being hungry or thirsty or uncomfortable from not washing, but such discomforts are temporary and on Yom Kippur one can transcend physical discomfort to connect with the spirit of the day.

1) Eating and Drinking – From sunset on the eve of Yom Kippur until nightfall the next day it is forbidden to eat or drink.
Pregnant and nursing women also fast. However, they should consult both a doctor and a rabbi about fasting, if they feel that fasting will create a dangerous situation.
One who is ill must consult a rabbi. If the rabbi says (s)he may eat, they should only eat that which is necessary and should refrain from delicacies.
Girls below the age of 12 and boys below the age of 13 are not required to fast.

2) Washing – During the fast, one may not wash for pleasure.

If one is dirty, one is permitted to wash away the dirt.
Upon rising in the morning and after using the bathroom, one should wash one’s hands, but only up to the knuckles.
One may wash one’s hands when preparing food.
One may bathe a baby.

3) Anointing – It is forbidden to anoint oneself with oil, thus the use of perfumes, make-up, suntan lotion, and other such items is prohibited.

4) Wearing Leather Shoes – During the fast it is forbidden to wear leather shoes. Some people wear only socks, but others wear shoes of canvas or other non-leather materials.

5) Marital Relations – It is forbidden to have marital relations during Yom Kippur.

C. Wearing White – Many people have the custom of wearing white on Yom Kippur. Some men, wear a kittel, a simple white robe, over their clothing. On Yom Kippur evening, men wear their tallit, prayer shawl, which is usually worn only during the day. Wearing white serves several purposes:

1) One’s burial shroud is white and one is therefore reminded of one’s mortality and the need to do teshuvah, repentance.

2) On Yom Kippur one wishes to resemble an angel, and therefore one symbolically dresses in white.

The Yom Kippur Prayers

Yom Kippur night – Kol Nidre This most famous of prayers is the opening of the Yom Kippur service. It begins before sunset, when the ark is opened and two Torah scrolls are removed to the bimah where the cantor is standing. The Kol Nidre service is an annulment of vows that one took in the past year or that one may take in the forthcoming year. This annulment refers only to voluntary vows between man and G-d and does not remove one’s obligation to repay debts or fulfill personal agreements.

    • Vidui/Confession- One aspect of the teshuvah/repentance process is to verbalize one’s sins. This takes place during the confession.
    • The confession must be with a true heart – one must truly repent the action (s)he is confessing.
    • Vidui is recited during every Yom Kippur service, including the afternoon service (mincha) preceding Yom Kippur.
    • The Vidui service is made up of a list of 22 sins (one for each letter of the aleph-bet). Examples of the confessional lines are:

i) For the sin that we have sinned before You under duress and willingly…

ii) For the sin that we have sinned before You with harsh speech…

The confession is recited standing up, head bowed in humility. As each confession is stated, one strikes the left side of his/her chest with his right fist.

Focusing on Vidui

* On first reading through the Vidui, one may think “I didn’t do that!” Each time one reviews the Vidui lines, however, one can gain a deeper insight into what is being said. For instance, one confession reads:For the sin that we have sinned before you by causing subservience through bribery.
“Subservience through bribery” does not necessarily mean giving a judge money to change a verdict. Every day people bribe each other with promises or flattery. When reading the Vidui, perhaps one may realize that they have coerced someone into doing something not quite right by promising them something or by encouraging the continuation of a negative character trait.

      • Reviewing the confession lines and reading them with a slightly different outlook will make the Yom Kippur experience all the more meaningful. Through this service, we realize how important our every action is.
      • The Torah Reading on Yom Kippur- During the Morning Service two Torah scrolls are removed from the ark. An account of the Yom Kippur Service of the High Priest in the Holy Temple is read from the Book of Leviticus, followed by a listing of the special sacrifices of the holiday in the Book of Numbers. The Haftorah is from the Book of Isaiah.

The Afternoon Service

Yom Kippur is the only holiday on which there is a weekday afternoon Torah reading. The section is taken from the portion of Acharei Mot in Leviticus and deals with the laws of forbidden sexual relations. The Haftorah is the story of Yonah (Jonah).Yonah is one of the prophets of the Bible: G-d chooses Yonah go to the Assyrian city of Nineveh and warn them that they will be destroyed unless they change their ways. Instead of following G-d’s command, Yonah flees onto a ship, hoping to avoid this mission. G-d sends a great storm. The people on the ship, fearing for their lives, discern that Yonah is the cause and, at Yonah’s instruction, throw him overboard. Yonah is swallowed by a large fish (commonly interpreted as a whale). He lives inside the fish for three days, praying to G-d and accepting G-d’s will.

When he is returned to dry land, he goes to Nineveh and gives them G-d’s message. The people repent and are saved. Yonah, however, leaves the city depressed that this city of idol-worshipers heeded G-d’s warning when his fellow Jews do not. He sits outside the city waiting to see what will happen. While he sleeps, G-d makes a vine grow over him to shade him from the heat. Yonah awakes and rejoices over the vine; but that night, G-d sends a worm to destroy the vine, causing Yonah to weep. G-d then rebukes him for having pity on a plant that appeared and disappeared in one night, but not having pity on the hundreds of thousands of souls of Nineveh.We read from the Book of Yonah on Yom Kippur because it highlights the idea of teshuvah, repentance.

      • Yonah realized that he had done wrong in trying to run away from G-d’s command. Yonah actually follows the pattern for teshuvah: He recognizes his mistake while on the ship during the storm; He verbally confesses that he was wrong by telling the men on the ship that he is the cause and instructing them to throw him overboard; He regrets his actions as expressed by the prayers he says while in the belly of the fish; and, when once again commanded by G-d to go to Nineveh, he does so.
      • The men on the ship, seeing the power of the G-d of Israel, repent their worship of idols and convert to Judaism.
      • The city of Nineveh heeds Yonah’s warning. The king of Nineveh decrees that his subjects must don sackcloth and repent. G-d sees that the people actually change their actions. The city is saved, highlighting the fact that G-d desires and accepts repentance from all people.

Yizkor – The Memorial Service

The Yizkor Memorial Service is recited on the last day of each festival – Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot, and on Yom Kippur (as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are considered like one holiday). The Yom Kippur Yizkor Service, however, is considered more significant than the other holidays.
While those who have passed away are unable to grow spiritually, the deeds of their children earn merit for their souls.

During the Yizkor Service, it is customary for people to offer a pledge to charity in memory of their loved one(s).
In Ashkenazic custom, those whose parents are both living leave the sanctuary during Yizkor. In Sephardic custom, everyone remains in the sanctuary while the cantor recites Yizkor.

Ne’ilah – The closing prayers

As the sun begins its descent on Yom Kippur, the Gates of Mercy, opened during the period of Teshuvah, are closing, and it is the last hour before the sentence is sealed.
Only on Yom Kippur is a fifth Silent Amida added to the day, and this is during the Neilah service.
As the day closes, the Neilah Service concludes with the blowing of the Shofar, heralding the closing of the Heavenly gates and announcing our optimism that our prayers were accepted and that the day will have a positive outcome.

After the Fast

After the Havdallah (separation of holy and weekday) ceremony, everyone returns home and partakes in a festive meal. Because one wishes to extend the holiness of the day, many begin preparing for the next holiday, Sukkot, by starting to build their sukkah right after Yom Kippur.

High Holidays

Participate in one of our renowned, interactive High Holiday Beginners Service programs or workshops this holiday season.  We’ll help you host a program with our comprehensive materials and videos or find one to attend.

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Rosh Hoshana

The Jewish New Year starts with a celebration of the very creation of the world and a recognition of humankind’s relationship to the Creator.

Learn more

Yom Kippur

The High Holidays culminate with The Day of Atonement.
There is a mysticism in that almost all Jews recognize the holiness of the day.

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Articles

Browse our collection of High Holiday Jewish Treats, filled with interesting stories and articles about Jewish histories and traditions.

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How We Prepare

How We Prepare

Preparation for Yom Kippur begins during the first ten days of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, beginning with Rosh Hashana, when Jews focus on Teshuva, repentance, and coming closer to G-d.

Erev Yom Kippur

      • Kapparot – This is a ritual of symbolic atonement

1) Before Yom Kippur, we make every effort to rid ourselves of sin. The custom of Kapparot is recorded in the Shulchan Aruch, The Code of Jewish Law, written 500 years ago and is described there as an ancient custom.
2) Kapparot is generally performed during the night before Yom Kippur, although it may be performed earlier.
3) Traditionally, kapparot is performed by taking a live hen or rooster, depending on one’s gender, and swinging it over one’s head while reciting a passage transferring one’s sins onto the bird. The bird is then slaughtered according to Jewish Law and given to a family in need. – An alternative custom (which is widely practiced in modern times) is that, instead of a chicken, one takes the appropriate amount of money to feed a family and donates it to a charity that provides food to the needy.

        • Mincha – During Mincha, the afternoon service, the Vidui, confession, is added to the Silent Amida.
        • Eating a Festive Meal – It is a mitzvah to partake of a festive meal the day before Yom Kippur. This meal should be eaten early so that one may have the special seudah hamafseket, meal before a fast, after the afternoon service.

a) Whoever eats on erev (the eve of) Yom Kippur and fasts on Yom Kippur, it is as if (s)he fasted both days.

b) The fasts in Judaism are not about deprivation, but about reaching a more focused spiritual level. It is, however, important that one has the strength to focus on the activities of Yom Kippur day.

      • Seudah HaMafseket, The Meal Before the Fast.

1) This meal can actually be eaten any time during the day, although most people partake of it after mincha, the afternoon service. The meal must be concluded during the daytime.
2) One should only eat light foods which are not too salty in order not to make fasting difficult. (It is therefore the custom not to eat fish at this meal.)
3) No intoxicating beverages should be served.
4) It is customary to eat kreplach dumplings, (usually served in soup) before Yom Kippur. The kreplach are hidden bits of meat in dough, symbolic of our desire that G-d will hide our sins.

      • Yahrtzeit Candles-It is customary to light memorial [yahrtzeit] candles which burn for 24 hours just prior to lighting the festival candles.
      • Festival Candle Lighting: All Jewish holidays begin at sunset the evening before. On the Sabbath and Yom Tov [festival], candles are lit 18 minutes before sunset to welcome the holy day. The procedure for lighting candles for a holiday varies slightly from Sabbath candle-lighting:

a. The blessings are said before lighting the candles.
b. The end of the blessing is changed to represent Yom Kippur:
Baruch atah Ado-nai, Ehlo-haynu melech Ha-olam, asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzeevanu l’hadlik ner shel Yom ha-Kippurim.
Blessed are you L-rd, our G-d ruler of the world, who sanctified us through His commandments and commanded us to kindle the lights of Yom Kippur.
c. An additional blessing is made to acknowledge the good fortune of being able to experience the holiday:
Baruch atah Ado-nai, Ehlo-haynu melech Ha-olam, she’he’che’yanu v’kee’manu v’hee’gee’anu la’zman ha’zeh.
Blessed are you L-rd, our G-d ruler of the world, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.

High Holidays

Participate in one of our renowned, interactive High Holiday Beginners Service programs or workshops this holiday season.  We’ll help you host a program with our comprehensive materials and videos or find one to attend.

Learn more

Rosh Hoshana

The Jewish New Year starts with a celebration of the very creation of the world and a recognition of humankind’s relationship to the Creator.

Learn more

Yom Kippur

The High Holidays culminate with The Day of Atonement.
There is a mysticism in that almost all Jews recognize the holiness of the day.

Learn more

Articles

Browse our collection of High Holiday Jewish Treats, filled with interesting stories and articles about Jewish histories and traditions.

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Blessing the Bread (Ha'Motzee)

Ha'Mo'Tzee

Blessing the Bread

Two complete loaves of bread, called challah, are used for ha’mo’tzee, the blessing over the bread.

Making Motzee
Two complete loaves of bread, called challah, are used for ha’mo’tzee, the blessing over the bread. The challah should be covered from before Kiddush until everyone is ready for the blessing over the challah following the ritual hand washing. The person making the blessing over the challah makes a gentle knife mark on the challah that will be eaten first and then raises both challot and recites the blessing. The marked challah is then cut, dipped in salt (just a pinch) and distributed to everyone at the table.

Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.
Ba’ruch Ah’tah Ah’doh’nai Eh’lo’hay’nu Melech ha’o’lam ha’motzee lechem min ha’aretz.

Shabbat

The Jewish Sabbath has been called an “oasis in time.” This heavenly gift is a unique opportunity for spiritual and psychological renewal that comes every week!

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Programs and Classes

Host or join one of our renowned Shabbat programs, and find out how you, your family and your community can participate.

Resources

Discover, read, share and download our Jewish Treats Guide to Shabbat, a fantastic resource to the Day of Rest.

Articles

Browse our collection of Shabbat Jewish Treats, filled with interesting stories and articles about Shabbat.


Rosh Hashana Essay

Rosh Hashana Essay

“Elul is the time to look back over the past year, sort out our strengths and weaknesses, and see what impact our deeds have had. Like sorting the receipts, we can put our actions into little piles…”

A Season of Repentance


Imagine that you receive a notice from the IRS that you are going to be audited in one month. You are frantic. After all, receipts and credit slips are scattered in drawers and piles throughout the house; and, now you have only one month to find them. The beginning of the month of Elul marks the one month notice until the “Divine audit” on Rosh Hashana. Throughout the month of Elul, Jews search for every receipt and credit slip left by their behavior. “Did I belittle the secretary who couldn’t remember my name?” “Did I borrow $20 and forget to return it?” “Did I…?”

Elul is the time to look back over the past year, sort out our strengths and weaknesses, and see what impact our deeds have had. Like sorting the receipts, we can put our actions into little piles: wrong to G-d, our fellow humans or even ourselves, and good to G-d, our fellow humans or ourselves. Sometimes an action may fall into several categories. Reviewing our behavior is, according to the Medieval scholar Rabbi Moses ben Maimon (Maimonides), the beginning of the first step in teshuva, repentance. The Jewish view of repentance goes much farther than mere regret. Teshuva is a pro-active process that recognizes our fallibility and our ability to change.

People err. The Bible is full of people “messing up.” What is important, however, is that one learns from his/her mistakes; and, the first step in setting it straight is recognizing the problem and stopping the behavior. For many, recognizing a negative behavior is painfully difficult. After all, it’s so easy to justify our actions — “Well, he shouldn’t have cut me off, I had every right to yell at him!””The government already gets enough money, I don’t have to declare this on my taxes!” “Hey, so what if I told them that I saw her out last night, everybody knows she’s a real partier!” But rationalizations don’t make the action right, they only make the rationalizer feel better about their behavior. Admitting that an action was wrong or that it may have hurt someone, takes courage and honesty. Stopping the behavior is an even greater challenge.

Humankind, however, was created to meet this challenge. As the only one of G-d’s creations with a soul, humans alone are capable of spiritual growth. Unlike physical development, spiritual growth must be a conscious effort, with both short and long term goals. For instance: long term, one may wish to be able to read from the Torah, but the short term goal may be to learn the Aleph-Bet. When setting the long term goal of becoming the best possible person, Rosh Hashana is the date by which one sets a short term goal of evaluating the direction in which one is heading.

On Rosh Hashana the world came to life. It was the sixth day of creation. The trees had been planted, the seeds for the grasses were sown, fish, birds, mammals and all other creatures were formed…and then G-d created the human being. How can Rosh Hashana be considered the birthday of the world if the world was already six days old? A baby is conceived and exists for nine months before the child is born, yet only the day of its first breath is considered its actual birthday. So too, only on the sixth day, when G-d “formed Adam of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,” did the world become actualized.

That first breath set the world in motion. It was also from that day forth that humankind has had to face the battle of free-will. While it may appear to be a burden, free-will, the ability to choose one’s actions, is actually the necessary ingredient for spiritual growth. After all, if one works solely upon natural instinct, one will always have the same reaction in similar situations. Without free-will there are no choices about behavior and there can be no reflection about right or wrong. With free-will, however, what we did yesterday is not necessarily what we do today or tomorrow. However, with free-will comes responsibility and accountability; and, on Rosh Hashana G-d holds each man and woman accountable for his or her actions over the last year

While people should strive to improve themselves throughout the year, as the month of Elul begins and the Shofar is sounded, we are reminded that there is just one month left. Thirty days remain to check one’s balance and settle old accounts. By using Elul to prepare, one is able to face the Divine audit on Rosh Hashana with clarity and confidence, knowing that one has moved towards his/her spiritual goal and has made a better connection with the power of the day, and with G-d.

High Holidays

Participate in one of our renowned, interactive High Holiday Beginners Service programs or workshops this holiday season.  We’ll help you host a program with our comprehensive materials and videos or find one to attend.

Learn more

Rosh Hoshana

The Jewish New Year starts with a celebration of the very creation of the world and a recognition of humankind’s relationship to the Creator.

Learn more

Yom Kippur

The High Holidays culminate with The Day of Atonement.
There is a mysticism in that almost all Jews recognize the holiness of the day.

Learn more

Articles

Browse our collection of High Holiday Jewish Treats, filled with interesting stories and articles about Jewish histories and traditions.

Read more

Recommended High Holiday Reading

Judaism

A selection of valuable books to help you explore your Jewish Heritage and prepare for the New Year.

Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur Survival Kit

By Shimon Apisdorf

Shimon Apisdorf’s Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur Survival Kit is an essential resource to anyone wishing to truly benefit from the High Holiday Services. With an easy-to-read, fast-paced style, the book provides readers with an overview to the holidays as a whole, and then some. The Survival Kit is an excellent resource for preparing to face the “Days of Awe” and for making the most of the Holy Days themselves. Not only is it a wonderful tool for the festival season, but it encompasses ideas pertinent to the rest of the year as well.

The Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur Survival Kit brings in ideas and fundamental questions about Jewish beliefs and customs. Apisdorf addresses issues like focusing during prayer, faith and the survival of the Jewish People. In fact, the wide scope of the book addresses basic issues and questions that have been asked, at some time or another, by almost every Jew; and, he provides simple, straight forward answers.

This Survival Kit is a guide. Buy it before the holiday season and use it as a pre-festival guide. Read it, takes notes on it, and meditate on the lesson within it. Then take the messages of the holiday and use them to move forward and enter the new year.

Remember to Shop with Amazon Smile so that a portion of your purchase is donated to NJOP!

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To Be A Jew

By Hayim Halevy Donin

A detailed description of day to day Jewish life, To Be A Jew is a valuable resource for every Jewish home. Read it through or use it as a reference source, Hayim Halevy Donin covers topics from circumcision to marriage and kashrut to holidays.

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This Is My G-d

By Herman Wouk

Well known novelist Herman Wouk’s reflections on traditional Jewish life. This Is My G-d is the perfect overview of the philosophy and details of Jewish life.

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Remember to Shop with Amazon Smile so that a portion of your purchase is donated to NJOP!

High Holidays

Participate in one of our renowned, interactive High Holiday Beginners Service programs or workshops this holiday season.  We’ll help you host a program with our comprehensive materials and videos or find one to attend.

Learn more

Rosh Hoshana

The Jewish New Year starts with a celebration of the very creation of the world and a recognition of humankind’s relationship to the Creator.

Learn more

Yom Kippur

The High Holidays culminate with The Day of Atonement.
There is a mysticism in that almost all Jews recognize the holiness of the day.

Learn more

Articles

Browse our collection of High Holiday Jewish Treats, filled with interesting stories and articles about Jewish histories and traditions.

Read more

Bentching/Birkat HaMazon/Grace After Meals

Birkat HaMazon

Grace After Meals

Bentching

How easy it is, when we are wanting, to ask G-d for the food, to remember our “please and thank yous,” to be grateful when we see food before us. It is much harder to recall that gratitude once the hunger has been satisfied. Grace After Meals, known in Hebrew as Birkat HaMazon and in Yiddish as Bentching, reminds each person that they need to show gratitude after the meal as well. Birkat HaMazon is recited after any meal with bread, for which one would also have washed their hands and recited the Ha’Motzee blessing. There are shorter After-Blessings which are recited following a snack.

Shir HaMaalot
On Shabbat and Festivals, Psalm 126, foretelling the restoration of Zion, is sung before Birkat HaMazon.
A Song of Ascents. When the L-rd brought the exiles back to Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with glad song. Then it was said among the nations: “The L-rd has done great things for them.” The L-rd had done great things for us, and we rejoiced. Restore our captives, O L-rd, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. Though the farmer bears the measure of seed to the field in sadness, he shall come home with joy, bearing his sheaves.
Shir hama’alot b’shuv Ad-onai et shivat Tzion, hayinu k’cholmim. Az yimalay sichok pinu u’lshonaynu rina, az yomru va’goyim higdil Ad-onai la’asot eem eleh. Higdil Ad-onai la’asot emanu hayinu simachim. Shuva A-donai et shivataynu ka’aphikim banegev. Ha’zorim b’dima b’rina yikzoru. Haloch yelech u’vacho nosay meshech ha’zara bo yavo v’rina nosay aloomatav.

Actual Bentching:
The words “our G-d” in parentheses are added if a minyan (quorum) is present.
Leader: Let us say grace.
Guests respond, then leader repeats: Blessed be the name of the L-rd from this time forth and forever.
Leader: With your permission, let us now bless (our G-d) whose food we have eaten.
Guests respond, then Leader repeats: Blessed be (our G-d) whose food we have eaten and through whose goodness we live.
All: Blessed be He and blessed be His name
Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who nourishes the whole world with grace, kindness and mercy. You give food to all creatures, for Your kindness endures forever. Through this great goodness we have never been in want; may we never be in want of sustenance for His great name’s sake. He is the G-d who sustains all, does good to all, and provides food for all the creatures that He has created. Blessed are You, O L-rd, who sustains all.
We thank You, L-rd our G-d, for having given a beautiful, good, and spacious land to our ancestors as a heritage; for having taken us out, L-rd our G-d, from the land of Egypt and redeemed us from the house of slavery; Your covenant which you have sealed in our flesh; for Your Torah which You have taught us; for Your statutes that You have made known to us; for the life, grace and kindness that You have bestowed on us; and for the food with which You sustains us at all times.
For everything, L-rd our G-d, we thank You and bless You. May Your name constantly be blessed by all forever, as it is written: “After you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the L-rd your G-d for the good land He has given you.” Blessed are You, O L-rd, for the land and the food.
Have mercy, L-rd our G-d, on Israel Your people, on Jerusalem Your city, on Zion the abode of Your glory, on the kingdom of the house of David Your anointed one, and on the great and holy Temple that bears Your name. Our G-d, our Father, tend and feed us; sustain and support us and relieve us. Speedily, L-rd our G-d, grant us relief from all our troubles. L-rd our G-d, O make us not rely on the gifts and loans of men but rather on Your full, open and generous hand, that we may never be put to shame and disgrace.

On Sabbath add the following paragraph:
(Favor us and strengthen us, L-rd our G-d, with Your commandments, with the commandment concerning the seventh day, this great and holy Sabbath. This day is great and holy before You to abstain from work and rest on it in love according to Your will. In Your will, L-rd our G-d, grant us rest so that there be no sorrow nor grief on our day of rest. Let us, L-rd our G-d, live to see Zion Your city comforted, Jerusalem Your holy city rebuilt, for You are Master of all salvation and consolation.)
Remember us this day, L-rd our G-d, for goodness; consider us for blessing; save us for life. With a word of salvation and mercy spare us and favor us; have pity on us and save us, for we look to You, for You are a gracious and merciful G-d and King.
Rebuild Jerusalem the holy city speedily in our days. Blessed are You, O L-rd, who will rebuild Jerusalem in mercy. Amen.
Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe. G-d, You are our Father, our King and Sovereign, our Creator, our Redeemer, our Maker, the Holy One of Jacob, the Shepherd of Israel, the good King who does good to all and has done good, is doing good, and will do good. You bestow favors on us constantly. You do ever lavish on us kindness and mercy, relief and deliverance, success, blessing, salvation, comfort, sustenance, support, mercy, life and peace and all goodness. May You never deprive us of any good thing.
May the Merciful One reign over us forever and ever.
May the Merciful One be blessed in heaven and on earth.
May the Merciful One be praised for all generations; may He be glorified through us forever and ever; may He be honored through us to all eternity.
May the Merciful One grant us an honorable livelihood.
May the Merciful One break the yoke from our neck; may He lead us upstanding into our land.
May the Merciful One send ample blessing into this house and upon this table at which we have eaten.
May the Merciful One send us Elijah the prophet of blessed memory who will bring us good tidings of consolation and comfort.
May the Merciful One bless…(choose the appropriate phrase:)

  • Guests recite the following line and, at one’s parents’ table, add the words in parentheses:
    (my revered father) the master of this house and (my revered mother) the mistress of this house.At one’s own table, add:
    myself (my wife/my husband and children) and all that belongs to me and all
    those who are participating in this meal.

All continue here:
May He bless us all together and all our possessions just as He blessed our forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with every blessing.
May He bless us all together with a perfect blessing, and let us say, Amen.
May they in heaven find merits with us so that we may enjoy a lasting peace. May we receive blessings from the L-rd, justice from the G-d of our salvation, and may we find favor and good sense in the eyes of G-d and men.
On Sabbath add sentence in parentheses:
(May the Merciful One cause us to inherit the day which will be all Sabbath and rest in the eternal life).
May the Merciful One enable us to live in the days of the Messiah and in the world to come.
He is the tower of salvation of His chosen king and shows kindness to His anointed prince, to David and his descendants forever.
He who creates peace in His heavenly heights, may He grant peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.
Revere the L-rd, you His holy ones for those who revere him suffer no want. Lions may be hungry and starving, but those who seek the L-rd shall not lack any good thing. Give thanks to the L-rd, for He is good; His kindness endures forever. You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. Blessed is the man who trusts in the L-rd, and whose trust is in the L-rd. I have been young and now I am old, but never have I seen the righteous man forsaken, nor his children wanting bread. The L-rd will give strength to his people; the L-rd will bless His people with peace.
The word “Eh’lo’hay’nu ” in parentheses is added if a minyan is present.
Leader: Ra’bo’tai n’va’raych.
Guests respond: Y’hee shaym Ah’doh’nai m’vo’rach may’ah’tah v’ad o’lam.
Leader: Y’hee shaym Ah’doh’nai m’vo’rach may’ah’tah v’ad o’lam. Beer’shoot ma’ra’nahn v’ra’ba’nahn v’ra’bo’tai n’va’raych (Eh’lo’hay’nu) sheh’ah’chal’noo mee’sheh’lo.
Guests respond, then Leader: Ba’ruch (Eh’lo’hay’nu) sheh’ah’chal’noo mee’sheh’lo oov’too’vo cha’yee’noo.
All: Ba’ruch Hoo, oo’va’rooch sh’mo.
Ba’ruch Ah’tah Ah’doh’nai Eh’lo’hay’nu Melech ha’o’lam, ha’zan et ha’o’lam koo’lo b’too’vo b’chayn b’chesed oo’v’rah’cha’mim. Hoo no’tayn leh’chem l’chol basar kee l’o’lam chas’do. Oo’v’too’vo ha’ga’dol ta’mid lo cha’sar la’noo v’al yech’sar la’noo ma’zohn l’o’lam va’ed. Ba’ah’voor sh’mo ha’ga’doal, kee Hoo Ayl zahn oo’m’far’nays la’kol, oo’may’tiv la’kol, oo’may’cheen ma’zohn, l’chol bree’o’tav ah’sher ba’rah. Ba’ruch Ah’tah Ah’do’nai, ha’zahn et ha’kol.

No’deh L’chah Ah’doh’nai Eh’lo’hay’nu ahl sheh’hin’chal’tah la’ah’vo’tay’noo eretz chem’dah tovah oo’r’chah’vah. V’al sheh’ho’tzay’tah’noo Ah’doh’nai Eh’lo’hay’nu may’eretz Mitzrayim, oof’dee’tah’noo mee’bayt ah’vah’dim, v’al brit’chah sheh’cha’tam’ta biv’sah’ray’noo, v’al Torat’cha sheh’lee’mad’ditanu, v’al choo’keh’chah sheh’ho’dah’tanu, v’al chayim chayn va’chesed sheh’cho’nahn’tah’noo, v’al ah’chee’laht mah’zohn sheh’ah’tah zahn, oo’m’far’nays oh’tah’noo tah’mid b’chol yom oo’v’chol ayt oo’v’chol sha’ah.
V’al ha’kol Ah’doh’nai Eh’lo’hay’nu ah’nach’noo mo’dim lach, oo’m’var’chim oh’tach, yit’bah’rach shim’chah b’fee kol chai tah’mid l’oh’lam va’ed. Ka’ka’toov v’ah’chal’tah v’sah’vah’tah oo’vay’rach’tah et Ah’doh’nai Eh’lo’heh’chah ahl ha’ah’retz ha’tovah ah’sher natan lach. Ba’ruch Ah’tah Ah’do’nai, ahl ha’ah’retz v’ahl ha’mah’zohn.
Rah’chaym (nah) Ah’doh’nai Eh’lo’hay’nu ahl Yisrael ah’meh’chah v’ahl Yerushalayim Ee’reh’chah v’ahl Tzion mish’kahn K’vo’deh’chah v’ahl mahl’choot bayt David m’shee’cheh’cha v’ahl ha’ba’yit ha’gah’dol v’ha’ka’dosh sheh’nik’rah shim’chah ah’lahv. Eh’lo’hay’noo Ah’vee’noo r’ay’noo zoo’nay’noo par’n’say’noo v’chal’k’lay’noo v’har’vee’chay’noo v’har’vach lah’noo Ah’doh’nai Eh’lo’hay’nu m’hay’rah mee’kol tza’ro’tay’noo. V’nah Ahl tazt’ree’chay’noo Ah’doh’nai Eh’lo’hay’noo lo lee’day maht’naht ba’sar va’dahm v’lo lee’day hahl’va’ah’tahm, kee im l’yad’cha ha’m’lay’ah ha’p’too’cha ha’k’doh’sha v’har’cha’va, sheh’lo nay’voash v’lo nee’kah’laym l’o’lam va’ed.
On the Sabbath insert:
(R’tzay v’ha’cha’lee’tzay’noo Ah’doh’nai Eh’lo’hay’nu b’mitz’vo’teh’cha, oo’v’mitz’vaht yom ha’sh’vee’ee, ha’Shabbat ha’gadol v’ha’kadosh ha’zeh. Kee yom zeh gadol v’kadosh hoo l’fah’neh’chah, lish’baht bo v’la’noo’ahch bo b’ah’ha’vah k’mitzvat r’tzo’neh’cha. Oo’vir’tzon’chah ha’nee’ach la’noo Ah’doh’nai Eh’lo’hay’nu sheh’lo t’hay tza’rah v’ya’goan va’ah’na’chah b’yom m’noo’cha’tay’noo. V’har’ay’noo A’do’nai Eh’lo’hay’nu b’neh’chah’maht Tzion ee’reh’chah, oo’v’vin’yahn Yerushalayim eer kod’sheh’chah, kee ah’tah Hoo ba’ahl ha’y’shoo’oat oo’va’ahl ha’neh’cha’moat.)

Oo’v’nay Yerushalayim eer ha’kodesh bim’hay’rah v’yah’may’noo. Ba’ruch Ah’tah Ah’doh’nai bo’nay v’rah’chah’mav Yerushalayim ah’mayn.
Ba’ruch Ah’tah Ah’doh’nai Eh’lo’hay’nu Melech ha’o’lam, ha’Ayl ah’vee’noo mahl’kay’noo ah’dee’ray’noo bo’ray’noo go’ah’lay’noo yo’tzray’noo k’doh’shay’noo k’dosh Yaakov ro’ay’noo ro’ay Yisrael, ha’Melech ha’tov v’ha’may’tiv la’kol sheh’b’chol yom va’yom Hoo hay’tiv, hoo may’tiv, Hoo yay’tiv la’noo, Hoo g’mah’lah’noo, Hoo go’m’lay’noo, Hoo yig’ma’lay’noo la’ahd. L’chayn, oo’l’chesed, oo’l’rah’chah’mim, oo’l’reh’vach, ha’tza’lah v’hatzla’cha, b’racha vee’shoo’ah, neh’chah’mah
par’nah’sah v’chahl’ka’lah, v’rah’cha’meem v’chayim v’shalom v’chol tov oo’mee’kol toov l’olam ahl y’chas’ray’noo.

Ha’rah’chah’mahn Hoo yim’loach ah’lay’noo l’o’lahm vah’ed.
Ha’rah’chah’mahn Hoo yit’ba’rach ba’sha’mayim oo’va’aretz.
Ha’rah’chah’mahn Hoo yish’tah’bahch l’dor doh’rim v’yit’pah’ar ba’noo la’ahd ool’nay’tzach
n’tza’cheem, v’yit’ha’dar ba’noo la’ahd ool’ol’may o’la’meem.
Ha’ra’chah’mahn Hoo y’far’n’say’noo b’chah’voad.
Ha’rah’chah’mahn Hoo yish’bor oo’lay’noo may’ahl tza’va’ray’noo v’Hoo yo’lee’chay’noo ko’m’mee’yoot l’ar’tzay’noo.
Ha’rah’chah’mahn Hoo yish’lahch lah’noo b’racha m’roo’bah ba’ba’yit ha’zeh v’ahl shool’chahn zeh sheh’ah’chahl’noo ah’lahv.
Ha’rah’chah’mahn Hoo yish’lahch lah’noo et Ay’lee’yahoo ha’na’vee za’choor la’tov, vee’va’ser la’noo b’so’roat toh’voat y’shoo’oat v’neh’chah’moat.

Guests recite the following line and, at one’s parents’ table, add words in parentheses:
Ha’rah’chah’mahn Hoo y’vah’raych et (ah’vee mo’ree) ba’ahl ha’ba’yit ha’zeh v’et
(ee’mee mo’rah’tee) ba’ah’laht ha’bayit ha’zeh. O’tahm v’et bay’tahm v’et zar’ahm v’et
kol ah’sher la’hem.

At one’s own table, recite:
Ha’rah’chah’mahn Hoo y’vah’raych o’tee (husband adds: v’ish’tee) (wife adds:
oo’ba’ah’lee) (if one has children add: v’zar’ee) v’et kol ah’sher lee.

All continue here:
O’tah’noo v’et kol ah’sher lah’noo k’mo sheh’nit’bar’choo ah’vo’tay’noo Avraham, Yitzchak v’Yaakov bah’kol mee’kol, kol, kayn y’vah’raych o’tah’noo koo’lah’noo ya’chahd biv’rah’chah sh’lay’mah v’no’mar ah’mayn.

Bah’ma’roam y’lahm’doo ah’lay’hem v’ah’lay’noo z’choot sheh’tehay l’mish’meh’ret shalom. V’nee’sah b’racha may’ayt Ah’do’nai, oo’tzedaka may’Eh’lo’hay yish’ay’noo, v’nim’tza chayn v’say’chel tov b’ay’nay Eh’lo’him v’ah’dahm.
On the Sabbath:
(Ha’rah’chah’mahn Hoo yahn’chee’lay’noo yom sheh’koo’lo Shabbat oom’noo’chah l’chayay ha’o’la’meem.)

Ha’rah’chah’mahn Hoo y’zah’kay’noo lee’moat ha’mashiach oo’l’chayay ha’o’lahm ha’ba. Mig’doal y’shoo’oat mahl’ko v’oh’seh chesed lim’shee’cho, l’David oo’l’zar’o ahd o’lahm. O’seh shalom bim’ro’mahv Hoo ya’ah’seh shalom ah’lay’noo v’ahl kol Yisrael v’im’roo Ah’mayn.
Ye’roo et Ah’doh’nai k’do’shav kee ayn mahch’sor lee’ray’ahv. K’fee’rim ra’shoo v’rah’ay’voo, v’dor’shay Ah’doh’nai lo yach’s’roo chol tov. Ho’doo la’Ah’doh’nai kee tov kee l’oh’lahm chas’doh. Po’tay’ach et yah’deh’chah oo’mas’bee’ah l’chol chai rah’tzon. Ba’ruch ha’gever ah’sher yiv’tach ba’Ah’do’nai, v’ha’yah Ah’doh’nai miv’tah’cho. Na’ar ha’yee’tee, gahm za’kahn’tee, v’loo rah’ee’tee tzaddik neh’eh’zahv v’zar’oh m’vah’kaysh lah’chem. Ah’doh’nai oaz l’ah’mo yee’tayn, Ah’doh’nai y’vah’raych et ah’mo va’shalom.

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The 10 Days

The 10 Days

Of Repentance

As the sun sets on Yom Kippur, the judgment handed down on Rosh Hashana is sealed. Known as the Ten Days of Repentance, the first ten days of the Hebrew month of Tishrei (from the beginning of Rosh Hashana until the end of Yom Kippur) are highlighted by an intensified desire for teshuva (repentance).

How to Change the Sentence in Ten Days:

Teshuva, Tefila U’Tzedukah(Repentance, Prayer and Charity)

Teshuva, repentance, is the major focus both before and after Rosh Hashana. During the Ten Days of Repentance, it is customary to scrutinize one’s actions and to review the process of teshuva that was begun during Elul, the month before Rosh Hashana. Many people make extra efforts at self-improvement during the Ten Days. For instance:

Someone just starting to get more involved with Judaism may determine that the perfect time to begin eating kosher food is during the Ten Days.
Someone who is farther along in his/her involvement may decide to use the Ten Days to begin davening (praying) regularly.
Some people choose to strengthen themselves during the Ten Days by designating one hour a day during which they are particularly careful not to speak Lashon Harah (evil or gossip)

Tefila

The concluding words of the first blessing are changed to: Remember us for life, O King Who desires life, and inscribe us in the Book of Life — for Your sake, O Living G-d

The conclusion of the second blessing is changed to: Who is like You, merciful Father, Who recalls His creatures mercifully for life.

The third blessing is amended to end with the holy King instead of the holy G-d.

The ending of the blessing for the restoration of justice is changed to: the King of Judgment.

During the second to last blessing, we insert the line: And inscribe all the children of Your covenant for a good life.
The ending of the final blessing is changed to: In the Book of Life, Blessing, and Peace, good livelihood, may we be remembered and inscribed before You, we and Your entire people, the Family of Israel, for a good life and for peace. Blessed are You, G-d, Who makes peace.

Avinu Malkenu, “Our Father, Our King,” a petitional prayer asking G-d to intervene for our benefit, is recited during the morning and afternoon services.

Tzedakah

Tzedakah, charity, is an additional method one may seek to revise or avoid a negative verdict.
*Isn’t that bribing G-d? No. The life-long goal of the human being is to move closer to G-d. While Judaism has mandated laws about giving charity, these laws are meant to develop a person’s sensitivity to those in need. During the Ten Days, when we seek to show G-d that we have grown and are striving to be better, giving charity fortifies our fundamental giving instinct. Rather than bribing G-d, we are actively reminding ourselves of the direction in which we should be moving.

The Fast Of Gedaliah (Tzum Gedaliah)

The Fast of Gedaliah is observed to commemorate of the murder of Gedaliah the son of Achikam, which is described in the last chapter of the Second Book of Kings.  (Read more about The Fast of Gedaliah)

1) During the duration of the fast, eating and drinking are prohibited.
2) Unlike Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av (The Day of Atonement and the Ninth of Av), bathing, anointing, marital relations and wearing leather are permitted.
3) Pregnant and nursing women, and others with health considerations may be exempt from fasting (please consult your rabbi). Children under the age of bar/bat mitzvah (13 for boys, 12 for girls) are not required to fast.
4) Special prayers are added to the synagogue services:

a) Selichot (Penitential Prayers) and Avinu Malkeinu (Our Father, Our King) are recited.
b) At the morning service, Exodus 32:11-14 and 34: 1-10 are read from the Torah.

5) If the third of Tishrei falls out on Shabbat, the fast is postponed until Sunday, as it is forbidden to fast on Shabbat (with the exception of Yom Kippur).

High Holidays

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Rosh Hoshana

The Jewish New Year starts with a celebration of the very creation of the world and a recognition of humankind’s relationship to the Creator.

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Yom Kippur

The High Holidays culminate with The Day of Atonement.
There is a mysticism in that almost all Jews recognize the holiness of the day.

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Kiddush

Kiddush

Kiddush, sanctification, is the prayer said over wine and/or grape juice through which Jews proclaim the uniqueness of Shabbat. Reciting or hearing Kiddush is a Shabbat obligation for all adult Jews.

The Friday night Kiddush contains verses from Genesis describing the Sabbath of Creation, followed by the blessing over wine, and closes with a blessing affirming the sanctification of Shabbat.

The blessing is recited while holding the kiddush cup in the right hand. (See Blessing Below)

KIDDUSH
The person reciting the Kiddush then drinks from the wine and distributes it so that everyone present can actively participate in the mitzvah. The actual obligation, however, is fulfilled by everyone simply hearing the Kiddush recited.

There are various customs regarding standing or sitting for the recitation of the Kiddush. Some people stand throughout the entire Kiddush, while others stand only for the first paragraph and sit when saying the blessing over the wine and the blessing sanctifying Shabbat.

BLESSING
It was evening and it was morning, the sixth day. The heavens and the earth were finished, with all their complement. On the seventh day, G-d had completed His work which He had undertaken, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had been doing. Then G-d blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all His creative work, which G-d had brought into being to fulfill its purpose.

Blessed are You L-rd, our G-d, Ruler of the world, Creator of the fruit of the vine.
Blessed are You L-rd, our G-d, Ruler of the world, who made us holy with His commandments and favored us, and gave us His holy Shabbat, in love and favor, to be our heritage, as a reminder of the Creation. It is the foremost day of the holy festivals marking the exodus from Egypt. For out of all nations You chose us and made us holy, and You gave us Your holy Shabbat, in love and favor, as our heritage. Blessed are You, L-rd, Who sanctifies the Shabbat.
Va’yehee erev va’yehee vo’ker yom ha’shee’shee, va’y’choo’loo ha’shah’ma’yim v’ha’ah’retz v’chol tz’vah’ahm. Va’y’chahl Eh’lo’him ba’yom ha’sh’vee’ee m’lach’to ah’sher ah’sah, va’yish’boht ba’yom ha’sh’vee’ee mee’kol m’lach’toh ah’sher ah’sah. Va’y’vah’rech Eh’lo’him et yom ha’sh’vee’eeh va’y’kah’daysh oh’toh, kee vo shah’vaht mee’kol m’lach’toh ah’sher bah’rah Eh’lo’him la’ah’soht.
Sah’v’ree mah’rah’nahn v’rah’bah’nahn v’rah’boh’tai: Ba’ruch Ah’tah Ah’doh’nai Eh’lo’hay’noo Melech ha’oh’lahm bo’ray p’ree ha’gah’fen.
Ba’ruch Ah’tah Ah’doh’nai Eh’lo’hay’nu Melech ha’o’lam ah’sher kidishanu b’mitz’vo’tahv v’rah’tzah va’noo v’Shabbat kawd’sho b’ah’hah’vah oo’v’rah’tzohn hin’chee’lah’noo zee’kah’rohn l’mah’ah’say v’ray’sheet, kee hoo yom t’chee’lah l’mik’rah’ay ko’desh zay’cher lee’tzee’aht Mitz’ra’yeem, kee vah’noo vah’char’tah v’oh’tah’noo kee’dahsh’tah mee’kol ha’ah’meem, v’shabbat kawd’sh’chah b’ah’ha’vah oo’v’rah’tzohn hin’chal’tah’noo. Ba’ruch Ah’tah Ah’doh’nai m’kah’daysh ha’Shabbat.

WASHING THE HANDS
After Kiddush, the celebrants at the meal wash their hands. This is not meant to be a hygienic washing of one’s hands with soap and water, but rather a ritual washing — a sanctification, if you will. A cup is filled with water which is poured twice over the right hand, then twice over the left hand. (Some have the custom of pouring 3 times over each hand.) The entire hand up to the wrist, with all jewelry removed, should be rinsed and a blessing recited as the hands are dried. There should be no talking between the washing of hands and eating the bread because one washes in order to eat bread, and there should be no interruption between these related actions.

Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us in His commandments and commanded us to wash our hands.
Ba’ruch Ah’tah Ah’doh’nai Eh’lo’hay’nu Melech ha’o’lam ah’sher kidishanu b’mitz’vo’tav v’tzee’vanu al n’tee’laht ya’da’yim.

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Aishet Chayil (Woman of Valor)

Aishet Chayil

Woman of Valor

Aishet Chayil, “The Woman of Valor,” is actually a selection of verses from the Book of Proverbs (31:10-31) written by King Solomon. It has been speculated that Solomon wrote these verses either as “provincial wisdom” on the ideal qualities of a wife, or as a tribute to his mother, Batsheva.

Some commentaries have suggested that the verses of Aishet Chayil are descriptions of the Torah, Shabbat, and the soul, all of which have feminine names in Hebrew and thus assume some feminine attributes. As with all of the books of the Bible, Proverbs reflects a deeper understanding of the relationship between the Jewish people and G-d.

The Midrash teaches that the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai was a marriage. On that day the Jewish nation was married to G-d, with the Torah serving as the ketubah (marriage contract). The Aishet Chayil section of Proverbs, therefore, can also be read as a description of the ideal Jewish nation – prosperous, generous, beautiful, loyal and happily laboring for the fruits of the Torah.

Who can find a woman of valour?
Her worth is more precious than pearls.
His heart trusts in her and lacks no treasure.
She does him good, never bad, all the days of her life.
She seeks out wool and linen, and her hands work willingly.
She is like a merchant’s ship, bringing her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet nighttime, and gives food to her household, the daily fare of her maidens.
She envisions a field and acquires it, from the fruit of her handiwork she plants a vineyard.
She girds herself with strength, and invigorates her arms.
She tastes and sees that her business is good, and her lamp never goes out at night.
She sets her hands to the distaff; and her fingers work the spindle.
She spreads out her palm to the poor, her hands are stretched out to the needy.
She fears not snow for her household, for her whole house is dressed in scarlet.
She makes covers for herself, her clothing is linen and purple [wool].
Her husband is prominent in the gates, as he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes cloth and sells it, and delivers a belt to the merchant.
She is clothed in strength and splendor, she looks to the future cheerfully.
She opens her mouth in wisdom, and kindly teaching is on her tongue.
She oversees the activities of her household, and never eats the bread of idleness.
Her children rise to declare her happy, her husband praises her.
Many daughters have done well, but you surpassed them all.
Grace is false, beauty is fleeting, it is for her fear of G-d that a woman is to be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands, and her works shall praise her in the gates.

Aishet chayil mi yimtza v’rachok mipninim mich’rah:
Batach ba lev ba’alah v’shalal lo yechsar:
G’malat’hu tov v’ lo rah kol yimay chai’yeha:
Darsha tzemer u’phishtim va’ta’as b’chay’fetz capeha:
Hayta ka’aniyot socher mimerchak tavi lachmah:
Va’takam b’od lie’lah va’titen teref l’vayta v’chok l’na’aroteh’ah:
Zam’ma sadeh va’tikachayhu mipri chapeh’ha natah karem:
Chagra b’oz matneh’hah va’t’ameytz ziro’o’teha:
Ta’amah ki tov sachrah lo yichbeh ba’lie’lah nayrah:
Yadeha shilcha vakishor v’chapeha tamchu falech
Kapah parsa leh’ani v’yadeha shilcha la’evyon:
Lo tira l’vayta mishaleg ki chol bayta lavoosh shanim:
Marvadim a’setah lah shaysh v’argaman l’voosha:
Nodah ba’sharim ba’alah bshivto im ziknay aretz:
Sadin a’setah va’timkor va’chagor natna la’kna’ani:
Oz v’hadar l’voosha va’tis’chak l’yom acharon:
Pi’ha patcha v’chachma v’torat chesed al l’shona:
Tzofiya halichot bayta v’lechem atzloot lo tochel:
Kamu bane’ha va’ya’ashruha ba’ala va’yihal’lah:
Rabot banot asu chayil v’at alit al koolana:
Sheker ha’chayn v’ hevel ha’yofi eesha yirat Hashem hee tit’halal:
T’nu lah mipri yade’ha v’y’hale’luha bash’arim ma’ase’ha.

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Shalom Aleichem

Judaism

On the eve of Shabbat, two ministering angels accompany a person home from the synagogue. One angel represents the positive forces and one angel represents the negative forces. When the person arrives home and finds the candles lit, the table set and the house in proper order – in other words, a house prepared for Shabbat – then the positive angel says “May it be thus for another Shabbat!” The negative angel must affirm this and say “Amen.” If, however, the house is not ready for Shabbat, the negative angel says “May it be thus for another Shabbat!” The positive angel must affirm this and say “Amen.”

Rabbi Josi, son of Judah
Talmud (Shabbat:119b)

The positive angel and the negative angel who accompany us home from the synagogue are the angels to whom we sing Shalom Aleichem. These two angels remind us of the importance of the Shabbat atmosphere. The Shabbat is more than just a day of resting from work, it is a day infused with holiness.

Throughout rabbinic literature, one finds Shabbat referred to as both the “Shabbat Queen” and the “Shabbat Bride.” The accompanying angels are like royal servants who have come to make certain that everything is prepared for the arrival of the Queen. So grand is the arrival of Shabbat, that even preparing for its arrival brings extra blessings to one’s home.

Peace be unto you, ministering angels, messengers of the Most High,
the King of kings, the Holy One, Blessed be He.

May your coming be in peace, messengers of peace, messengers of the Most High,
the King of kings, the Holy One, Blessed be He.

Bless me with peace, messengers of peace, messengers of the Most High,
the King of kings, the Holy One, Blessed be He.

May your departure be in peace, messengers of peace, messengers of the Most High,
the King of kings, the Holy One, Blessed be He.

Shalom aleichem, malachei ha’sharayt, malachei elyon, mi’melech malchei ha’mlachim, HaKadosh Baruch Hoo:

Bo’achem l’shalom, malachei ha’shalom, malachei elyon, mi’melech malchei ha’mlachim, HaKadosh Baruch Hoo:

Barchunee l’shalom, malachei ha’shalom, malachei elyon, mi’melech malchei ha’mlachim, HaKadosh Baruch Hoo:

Tzaytchem l’shalom, malachei ha’shalom, malachei elyon, mi’melech malchei ha’mlachim, HaKadosh Baruch Hoo:

Shabbat

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Birkat HaBanim (Blessing the Children)

Birkat HaBanim

Blessing the Children

“May G-d make you like Ephraim and like Menashe.”

“May G-d make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.”

For both sons and daughters, the parent(s) also recite the blessings by which the Kohanim (priests) used to bless the Jewish people.

The custom of blessing the children goes back to the patriarch Jacob and the blessing that he gave to Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Menashe. Joseph brought his sons to his father’s death bed. When Jacob realized that these were the children of his son whom he had thought he had lost, he instructed Joseph to bring them forward so that he might bless them. Through his blessing, he actually bequeathed upon the two boys equal status with their uncles so that the descendants of Ephraim and Menashe each received a separate portion in the land of Israel.

Significant to the Blessing of the Children, however, is what Jacob said in Genesis 48:20: “And he blessed them that day, saying: “By you shall Israel bless, saying: May G-d make you like Ephraim and like Manasseh.'” Since that day, the children of Israel have blessed their sons with these exact same words: “May G-d make you like Ephraim and like Menashe.”Because Joseph’s only children, Ephraim and Menashe were boys, the blessings for daughters is slightly different, referring back instead to the four matriarchs of the Jewish people: “May G-d make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.”

For both sons and daughters, the parent(s) also recite the blessings by which the Kohanim (priests) used to bless the Jewish people:

Almost universally, it is the custom to put one’s hands on the child’s head as the blessing is recited.

For Girls
May G-d make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.
Yisimeich Eh-lokim k’Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel, v’Le’ah

For Boys
May G-d make you like Ephraim and like Menashe.
Yisimcha Eh-lokim k’Ephraim v’chi’Menashe

For Everyone
May G-d bless you and watch over you.
May G-d shine His face toward you and show you favor.
May G-d be favorably disposed to you and grant you peace.
Yivarechecha A-donai v’yish’m’recha.
Ya’air A-donai panav aylecha vee’chu’neh’ka.
Yisa A-donai panav ay’lehcha, v’yah’saym l’cha shalom.

Shabbat

The Jewish Sabbath has been called an “oasis in time.” This heavenly gift is a unique opportunity for spiritual and psychological renewal that comes every week!

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Hows and Whys

ROSH HASHANA

Rosh Hashana, which literally means the Head of the Year, is the Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashana is Yom Harat Olam, The Birthday of the World.

According to the Biblical narrative, it took six days to create the world, and on the sixth day G-d created Adam. During the first six days, animate and inanimate objects were formed, but the world was inactive until after the creation of the first human, who could appreciate and use G-d’s creations. Rosh Hashana is actually the day that Adam was created, but, even though there was prior creativity, it is nevertheless considered the birthday of the world because on this day the world came to life. With the creation of Adam, time was sectioned into hours, days, years, etc., and, therefore, we begin counting the years from this day.
Rosh Hashana is celebrated on the first and second days of Tishrei.
In the Torah, Rosh Hashana is given several names, each of which characterizes the day:

    • Yom Hazikaron – The Day of Rememberance – It is the day on which G-d recalls all of humankind’s deeds of the past year.
    • Yom HaDin – The Day of Judgement – It is the day on which G-d judges the actions of humankind.

What Happens on Rosh Hashana:

Rosh Hashana is a Yom Tov, a festival day, which is observed like Shabbat.

Shabbat and all Jewish holidays always begin at sunset on the evening before. On the Sabbath and Yom Tov (festival), candles are lit 18 minutes before sunset to welcome the holiday. On the second night of Yom Tov, candles are lit no earlier than one hour after sunset.
When Rosh Hashana begins on Friday night, the Shabbat candle-lighting procedure is as follows :
Two candles (minimum) are lit, then both hands are waved towards the face, symbolically drawing in the light of the candles and the sanctity of the Sabbath/Yom Tov. The eyes are covered and the blessing is recited. On the second night, Saturday night, the blessing is said first, without the Shabbat addition, and only then are the candles lit (from a pre-existing flame).

On Friday night, insert the bracketed words:

Baruch atah Ado-nai, Ehlo-haynu melech Ha-olam, asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzeevanu l’hadlik ner shel [Shabbat v’]Yom Tov.

An additional blessing is said on both nights of Rosh Hashana to acknowledge the good fortune of being able to experience the holiday:

Baruch atah Ado-nai, Ehlo-haynu melech Ha-olam, she’he’che’yanu v’kee’manu, v’hee’gee’anu la’zman ha’zeh
Blessed are you L-rd, our G-d ruler of the world, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season
Evening services are held in the synagogue.

The Festive Meal:

The Festival Evening Kiddush (blessing over wine), found in the holiday machzor (prayer book), is recited.

Motzee – After a ritual washing of the hands, the blessing is made over two whole challot.

    • Traditionally the challot for Rosh Hashana are round, symbolic of the cycle of the year, and sweet (often with raisins).
    • The challah is dipped in honey (as well as salt), symbolic of sweetness. The custom of dipping the challah in honey continues until the end of Sukkot.
    • The symbolic foods: Since Rosh Hashana is the day of judgement, it is customary to eat foods with symbolic meanings to invoke G-d’s blessing. We therefore utter a prayer and then eat these items. (Except for apples and honey, which is universally practiced, the exact items eaten depend on family custom.)

View the list and description of the Symbolic Foods

A festive meal is eaten, followed by the Grace After Meals with the addition of Y’aleh V’Yavo, “May there rise and come…” for the holiday.
On Friday night, the special Shabbat addition, r’tzai, is added before Y’aleh V’Yavo.

The Service

During Rosh Hashana, a special Rosh Hashana prayer book, called a machzor, is used.

The Torah reading for the first day of Rosh Hashana is the story of the birth of Isaac (Genesis 18). The Torah reading for the second day of Rosh Hashana is the story of the Binding of Isaac. According to tradition, both events occurred on Rosh Hashana (Genesis 22).

The Shofar Service

View the description of the Shofar Service

The Festival Day Kiddush (blessing over wine), found in the holiday machzor (prayer book), is recited.
Motzee – After a ritual washing of the hands, the blessing is made over two whole challot, the pieces of which are dipped in honey.
A festive meal is eaten, followed by the Grace After Meals with the addition of Y’aleh V’Yavo, “He will go up and he will come…”, for the holidays.

On Saturday afternoon, the special Shabbat addition, r’tzai, is added before Y’aleh V’Yavo.

The Festive Lunch

Mincha, the afternoon service is recited. (including the weekly Torah reading since it is also Shabbat).

Tashlich – The casting away of sins

It is customary after the afternoon service on the first day of Rosh Hashana, to go to a body of water in which there are live fish (or to a place where one can see the water) and to symbolically cast away one’s sins. While standing by the water, several verses from the books of Micha and Psalms are recited expressing the desire for the sins to be carried away.

When the first day of Rosh Hashana is Shabbat, as it is this year, tashlich is postponed until the second day.
If one does not perform tashlich during Rosh Hashana, for instance if one is unable to get to a body of water, it may be performed until Hoshana Raba (the seventh day of Sukkot).

Tashlich – The casting away of sins

It is customary after the afternoon service on the first day of Rosh Hashana, to go to a body of water in which there are live fish (or to a place where one can see the water) and to symbolically cast away one’s sins. While standing by the water, several verses from the books of Micha and Psalms are recited expressing the desire for the sins to be carried away.
When the first day of Rosh Hashana is Shabbat, as it is this year, tashlich is postponed until the second day.

If one does not perform tashlich during Rosh Hashana, for instance if one is unable to get to a body of water, it may be performed until Hoshana Raba (the seventh day of Sukkot).

The Second Day

The second day of Rosh Hashana begins one hour after sunset

The rituals and the prayers of the second day are the same as the first day, except for a change in the Torah reading and the Haftorah.

One should try to have a new fruit at the second night meal or wear a new outfit so that the repeated Shehecheyanu blessing will apply to those items and not be in vain.

Sleeping on Rosh Hashana

Some people will not sleep so that they will not be asleep during this crucial judgement period or to insure that they will not have “a sleepy year.”

High Holidays

Participate in one of our renowned, interactive High Holiday Beginners Service programs or workshops this holiday season.  We’ll help you host a program with our comprehensive materials and videos or find one to attend.

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Rosh Hoshana

The Jewish New Year starts with a celebration of the very creation of the world and a recognition of humankind’s relationship to the Creator.

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Yom Kippur

The High Holidays culminate with The Day of Atonement.
There is a mysticism in that almost all Jews recognize the holiness of the day.

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Articles

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Candlelighting

Judaism

The very last act performed before bringing Shabbat into the home is the lighting of the Shabbat candles. While this mitzvah is considered one of the three primary mitzvot of a Jewish woman, Shabbat candles must be lit in every home, by either a man or a woman.

One is supposed to enjoy Shabbat, and stumbling about in a dark house is hardly a way to experience enjoyment. Today, when every house is filled with electric light, it may be difficult to grasp the importance of candles. It should be recalled, however, that electric light came into use only at the beginning of the last century. The burning of Shabbat candles, often placed on or near the dining room table, ensure Shalom Bayit, peace in the home, for Shabbat evening. And even today, in rooms filled with electric light, there is a special soothing feeling when watching the flickering flames of the candles cast playful shadows as they add a glow of sanctity to the Shabbat setting.

Blessed are you L-rd, our G-d, Ruler of the world, Who sanctified us through His commandments and commanded us, to kindle the lights of the Sabbath.
Ba’ruch ah’tah Ah’do’nai, Eh’lo’hay’nu melech ha’o’lam, ah’sher kidishanu b’mitz’vo’tav v’tzee’vanu l’hahd’leek nayr shel Shabbat.

You can also add your own prayer — ask G-d for whatever you wish. Now, uncover your eyes, enjoy the soft light of the candles, and feel the holiness of the Shabbat descend upon you and your household.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Print the Candlelighting Poster> or click the image to view in full screen or download.

*To use tha candlelighting poster on Shabbat, be sure to print your copy before sunset on Friday to stay within the Shabbat spirit.

Shabbat

The Jewish Sabbath has been called an “oasis in time.” This heavenly gift is a unique opportunity for spiritual and psychological renewal that comes every week!

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Programs and Classes

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Resources

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Preparing for the New Year

Preparing for the
New Year

Elul — The Month Before Rosh Hashana

Table of Contents

1. Teshuva- Repentance

What is Teshuva?

Teshuva is translated as repentance, but it is actually a process of self-evaluation and self-improvement. The Hebrew month of Elul is the time to look over our weaknesses, see where we have transgressed, and do Teshuva. The Rambam (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, Maimonides 1135 – 1204) enumerates four primary steps to Teshuva:

Recognize and discontinue the action, which may be something as drastic as stealing or as common as losing one’s temper.

Verbally confess the action, thus giving the action a concrete existence in one’s own mind.

Regret the action. Evaluate the negative effects this action may have had on oneself or on others.

Determine not to do the action again. Picture yourself in the same situation and create a positive way to handle it.

Teshuva for a sin between a person and G-d:

When one has transgressed a mitzvah that does not affect another person, the Teshuva is purely between the person and G-d; and the four steps listed above are necessary for the repentance process.

Teshuva for a sin between fellow human beings

When one has caused harm to another person, whether by stealing from them, by embarrassing them or anything else, then Teshuva requires that restitution and reconciliation be arranged between those involved. Before G-d can forgive the perpetrator, the victim must express forgiveness. It is customary during the month of Elul for people to seek out those they may have harmed, intentionally or unintentionally, and ask for mechilah, forgiveness.

One must be sincere in their process of repentance and seek to repair the damage done the person, or at least attempt to do so.
A person is obligated to ask for forgiveness three times. After three refusals, the person is no longer held accountable for that action as (s)he has proven true regret. The person who will not accept a sincere apology, however, is guilty of bearing a grudge. There are even those who say the transgression transfers to the person who refused to grant forgiveness.

2. Customs of Elul

The Blowing of the Shofar

At the conclusion of morning services, starting on the second day of Elul, the month proceeding Rosh Hashana, it is customary for four “notes” to be sounded on the Shofar each morning.

The Shofar is not blown on Shabbat.

The Shofar is not blown on the day before Rosh Hashana

The blowing of the Shofar during the month of Elul is like a wake-up call to alert everyone that the Days of Judgment are approaching.

Selichot, special penitential prayers, are recited.
Selichot are recited just before dawn, except for the first night of selichot, when they are usually said just after midnight. The time to start saying selichot varies from community to community.

Sephardim generally begin saying selichot on the second day of Elul
Ashkenazim begin saying selichot on the Saturday night of the Shabbat that immediately proceeds Rosh Hashana. If there are fewer than four days between Shabbat and Rosh Hashana, selichot are begun on the Saturday night of the previous week.

Selichot may be said when praying alone, however, the Thirteen Attributes of G-d, which conclude the Selichot, are only said with a minyan.

Psalm 27 is added to the daily prayer service from the second day of Elul until Shemini Atzeret, the end of Sukkot. (This is an Ashkenazic custom) – It is generally added at the end of Shacharit (morning service) and Maariv (evening service), although some recite it after Shacharit (morning service) and Mincha (afternoon service).

High Holidays

Participate in one of our renowned, interactive High Holiday Beginners Service programs or workshops this holiday season.  We’ll help you host a program with our comprehensive materials and videos or find one to attend.

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Rosh Hoshana

The Jewish New Year starts with a celebration of the very creation of the world and a recognition of humankind’s relationship to the Creator.

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Yom Kippur

The High Holidays culminate with The Day of Atonement.
There is a mysticism in that almost all Jews recognize the holiness of the day.

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Articles

Browse our collection of High Holiday Jewish Treats, filled with interesting stories and articles about Jewish histories and traditions.

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Beginners Haggadah

Beginners Haggadah

NJOP’s Beginners Haggadah includes concise commentary and provocative questions to inspire further thought, as well as proposed answers. The Haggadah has English, Hebrew and user-friendly translations and transliteration.

To order your copy of the NJOP Beginners Haggadah send an email to Rivka or call us at (800) 44-HEBREW.

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Print the Sample Beginners Haggadah or use the interface on this page to view or download.

Passover

The holiday of Passover commemorates the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt which led to the birth of the Jewish nation at Sinai. The Passover Seder, which is held on the first (and second night outside of Israel) of Passover, is perhaps the most widely observed Jewish practice. This outline will provide you with the basics of the Passover holiday, laws and customs.

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Programs and Classes

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Resources

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Shabbat Prayers

Jewish Prayer
A basic explanation of the nature of prayer is that it is simply a “personal” conversation between an individual and G-d. But, if prayer is personal, what is the advantage of formal prayer? On the surface, formal prayer seems rote and automatic, not at all personal. But how often would most people pray, if they were not required to do so. It is easy to say “Thank G-d” when something good happens, or to pray for help when things go wrong. But how many of us would think to thank G-d for the myriad of miracles we witness every day? And how often would we pray for the well-being of others if our own lives are running smoothly? By requiring that we pray a fixed number of times a day, the Rabbis ensure that we are in communication (however imperfect) with G-d each day. People who pray every day often find that prayer helps them anchor their day. Life in the frenetic-paced world of today is so chaotic. But, fixed prayer ensures that twice or three times a day we can stop, slow down, and completely focus on our relationship with G-d and the cosmos. It’s the best tranquilizer in the world.

Prayer is always meaningful. But in many ways Jewish prayer is special and unique. Unlike other religions, each Jew prays individually — no leader is necessary, just ourselves. In Judaism, both private and public prayer have a place and special meaning. Private prayer makes it possible for people who are unable to participate in congregational prayer (for example, women with young children) to communicate on a sublime level with G-d. The value of public prayer is that each individual in the group contributes a special element, and all of the elements combined add up to a more perfect whole. There is also an important symbolic meaning to public prayer. When ten or more people convene for the purpose of prayer, they symbolically represent all of Israel. When an individual prays with a congregation, that individual is praying with the entire Jewish people. Nevertheless, even in a minyan, each individual who is capable of praying is required to recite the prayers personally. And, of course, the central prayer – the Amidah – is recited privately.

The special prayers that Jews recite each day express the historical experience and basic values of our people. In these prayers we reaffirm the articles of Jewish faith and give voice to our hopes for the future, not only of the Jewish people, but for all humankind. We become a part of our history, a connection with the past, present, and the future. Perhaps the most valuable asset of prayer is that, even if only for a few minutes each day, it brings us closer to each other and to G-d.

The Shabbat morning (Shacharit & Mussaf) prayer service is an especially beautiful and moving service. It not only encompasses all of the major elements of the Jewish prayer service, but the tenor of the service is fundamentally enhanced by the holiness of the day. On Shabbat, Jews refrain from doing any kind of creative labor. Instead the day is spent in reverent homage to the ultimate Creator — G-d.

The following is a brief explanation of each major section of the Shabbat Shacharit service. For reasons of space, it is impossible to include the actual prayers as well as the explanations. This is unfortunate, because the prayers themselves evoke a deep emotional response which can only be felt, not explained. To get the full benefit of this module, the reader might wish to first read the prayer or blessing in the Siddur (prayer book), and then read the explanation presented here:

The Shabbat Service

MORNING BLESSINGS (BIRKHOT HASHACHAR)
It is no accident that the first and last thing Jews do every day is pray. What could be more appropriate in these moments of quiet reflection than to thank G-d for the myriad blessings of each day. The morning blessings are recited (some privately upon awakening, and some publicly in the Shacharit service) to express our gratitude to G-d for enabling us to start a new day, refreshed and reinvigorated.h concept of G-d, and the last four lines express the faith we have in G-d.

VERSES OF PRAISE (PESUKEI DEZIMRAH)
Originally, the Verses of Praise were an optional part of the prayer service and were recited privately. Today, these verses are recited every day, in private and public prayer. The Verses of Praise consists of a series of psalms, preceded and followed by a special blessing. The recitation of these psalms is intended to prepare and uplift the soul, purify our thoughts, and make us worthy to approach G-d in prayer. Following the Verses of Praise, the Half Kaddish is recited to indicate that a subsection of the prayer service has now concluded, and we continue with a major section of the prayer service, namely, the blessings of the Shema and the Shema. [The Half Kaddish and other versions of Kaddish are explained after Ein Ke’elohaynu in the section called Kaddish.]

BOREKHU (CALL TO PRAYER)
At one time the morning congregational service began with the Shema. All preliminary prayers were said privately. Consequently the introduction to the Shema was the call to prayer or Borekhu. This marked the beginning of the public prayer service. Although preliminary prayers are now said publicly, Borekhu still remains the introduction to the Shema. Since Borekhu calls the congregation to public prayer, it is not said when praying privately.

BLESSINGS OF THE SHEMA AND THE SHEMA
The Shema is more than just a prayer — it is the Jewish profession of faith. For generations, Jews have marked the most meaningful events of their lives with the recitation of the Shema. It is said when one rises in the morning and when one retires at night; in joy; in despair; in thankfulness; in resignation; when praising G-d; when beseeching G-d; and even when questioning G-d. It is usually the first prayer taught to children, the last thing on the lips of martyrs and is part of the deathbed confession. No one can miss the emotion in a Jew’s voice when he/she intones: Shema Yisrael, Ado-nai el-oheinu, Ado-nai echad. Hear O Israel, the L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is One. (Deut. 6:4)

    1. 1st and 2nd Blessings
      The blessings of the Shema lead up to the actual recitation of the Shema itself. 1. The first blessing is the blessing of G-d the Creator. In this blessing, we bless, praise and thank G-d for the miracle of creation and acknowledge G-d’s ongoing involvement in that process. The Shabbat version of the blessing varies slightly from the weekday version in that it focuses more on G-d’s supremacy as the ultimate Creator. The first blessing is broken down into six segments. 1) The first segment blesses G-d for the creation of the Universe. 2) The second segment thanks G-d for the creation and affirms G-d’s supremacy in all things. 3) the third segment affirms G-d’s greatness as we perceive it in the form of the heavenly bodies. Because the heavenly bodies are so awe inspiring, we are further inspired to praise their Creator. 4) On Shabbat the fourth segment differs from the weekday version in that in focuses on and praises the Sabbath Day. 5) The fifth segment blesses G-d for making it possible for us to act in accord with the Angels in honoring G-d the Creator. 6) The sixth segment reviews all of the above and blesses G-d as “Creator of the Lights.” 2. The Second blessing, leading to the actual recitation of the Shema, blesses and thanks G-d for choosing His people, Israel, with love. We ask G-d to instill in our hearts the ability to understand and elucidate, listen, learn, teach, safeguard, perform and fulfill all of the words of the Torah.
    2. Paragraphs of the Shema
      Next comes the actual recitation of the Shema itself, which consists of three paragraphs, each a selection from the Torah: 1.The first paragraph (Deut. 6:4-9) begins with the profession of faith “Shema Yisrael …” (see above) and continues to define our relationship with G-d. “You shall love G-d with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your resources.” We are instructed to engrave G-d’s commandments upon our hearts, teach them to our children, speak of them at all times, bind them as a sign upon our arms and on our heads above the eyes (tefillin), and write them on the doorposts of our homes and gates (mezuzah). 2.In the second paragraph (Deut. 11:13-21), G-d promises us prosperity if we follow his commandments. G-d also warns us of the consequences if we turn our hearts away from Him. And, once again, G-d reminds us that if we keep His commandments in our hearts and minds at all times, we will attain heaven on earth. 3.In the third paragraph (Num. 15:37-41), we are commanded to wear tzitzit (fringes on the corners of our garments). These fringes serve as a reminder to us of G-d’s commandments and the need to observe them and thereby become holy. It further reminds us of G-d’s role in redeeming the Jewish people from Egypt, thereby affirming His role as our G-d.
    3. Blessing of Redemption
      The three paragraphs of the Shema are followed by the blessing of redemption in which we evoke G-d’s past role as the redeemer of Israel and ask Him to redeem us again, We conclude with the blessing of G-d who has redeemed Israel.

THE SHABBAT AMIDAH
The central prayer of each service is the Shemoneh Esrei, also known as the Amidah. This prayer encompasses all facets of life, both physical and spiritual and epitomizes the concept of Jewish prayer. The Shemoneh Esrei was originally composed by the Men of the Great Assembly in the fifth century B.C.E. and was finally recorded in its present form about the year 100 C.E.. It has been recited by Jews two or three times a day since then. Reciting the Amidah, fulfills the actual obligation to pray. In fact, it is usually recited twice during the morning and afternoon service, once quietly by each member of the congregation, and then repeated by Prayer Leader (Chazzan). This repetition was instituted for those who cannot yet pray on their own, for the Sages understood the spiritual hunger of those still learning to pray. By listening intently and repeating Amen at the end of each blessing, these worshippers are considered to have fulfilled their obligation to recite the Amidah. Shemoneh Esrei means “eighteen” and the weekday version of the Shemoneh Esrei originally consisted of eighteen blessings (a 19th blessing was added in the third century C.E.). The other name for this prayer is “Amidah” which means to stand. When we recite the Amidah, we are standing in the presence of G-d. On Shabbat, all blessings that emphasize our personal needs and requests are omitted, and only seven blessings are recited. These seven blessings focus on our relationship to G-d and emphasize the sanctity of Shabbat. The number seven represents wholeness, completion and peace, a most appropriate theme for Shabbat. These seven blessings are broken down into three sections:

    1. Blessings of Praise
      The first three blessings of the Amidah are devoted to praise of G-d and defining our relationship with Him. 1.Shield of Abraham (History) In the first blessing, we introduce ourselves to G-d and define ourselves as His faithful followers. We reemphasize our history and lineage, identifying ourselves as the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. As we again affirm our covenant with G-d, we beg His protection based on this covenant. 2.Restores the Dead to Life (Power) In the second blessing, we again recognize the unique power of G-d. We extol His greatness in giving and sustaining life, healing the sick, freeing the captive, and raising the fallen. We speak of G-d’s great mercy, and of life after death (“Blessed art Thou, Lord, who makes the dead live”). In this blessing, we once again praise G-d the Creator of all things and humbly accept G-d’s great power over all living things. 3.Sanctification In the third blessing, we emphasize the holiness of G-d. By proclaiming G-d’s holiness, we are emphasizing his separateness from us. In Bereshith (Genesis) it is stated that the human being is created in G-d’s image. This means that, of all G-d’s creations, only the human being is capable of attaining holiness. However, lest we become vain, we must constantly remind ourselves that the holiest of humans can never become as holy as G-d. In this third blessing, we once again affirm the supreme holiness of G-d and remember that, in His holiness, G-d is separate from us. During the repetition of the Amidah, a special prayer called the Kedushah is recited, which further expands on the holiness of G-d.
    2. Body of the Shabbat Amidah
      On weekdays, this middle section of the Amidah consists of 13 blessings which ask G-d for his intervention on behalf of our physical and spiritual needs. Because it is unseemly to concern ourselves on Shabbat with personal needs, or to request that they be fulfilled, these blessings are omitted, and instead we focus our single blessing on Shabbat itself. 4. Blessing of G-d Who Sanctifies Shabbat In this blessing, we affirm the holiness of Shabbat as a day of remembrance of the creation. We thank G-d for giving us this covenant between G-d and Israel, the sanctification of the Sabbath day. We acknowledge our special privilege in being the people chosen by G-d to receive the blessing of Shabbat and promise to pass it on to our children through the generations.
    3. Blessings of Thanksgiving
      In the last three blessings of the Amidah, we ask G-d to accept our prayers, we thank Him for past, present, and future kindnesses, and pray for peace. 5. Restoration of G-d’s Presence to Zion Before the destruction of the Temple, we asked G-d to accept animal sacrificial offerings. This blessing was altered after the destruction of the Temple. In this blessing we ask G-d to accept prayer as our offering in lieu of animal sacrifice. It is through this prayer that we are drawn closer to G-d. In this blessing now we ask G-d to respond to what we bring to Him, not what we ask of Him. Throughout the blessing, we ask G-d to receive — to receive our prayer, to receive our love, to be received favorably by Him. And, finally, we ask G-d for the restoration of the Temple and the restoration of the Divine Presence to Zion, embodied in the final redemption of our people. 6. Thanksgiving In each of the previous blessings we have petitioned G-d, or in some way expressed our own needs. In this blessing, our needs are not mentioned. Instead, we thank G-d. We thank Him for our lives, for His miracles which we witness every day, for His compassion. This blessing affirms the importance of gratitude in our daily lives to each other and to G-d. Ingratitude is vanity at its worst. When directed against others, it is a sin, and when directed against G-d, it borders on heresy. This blessing reminds us of the necessity of thanksgiving. 7. Peace In ancient times and, unfortunately also in present times, many nations measured their national glory and prestige in terms of war and conquest. In this blessing we are reminded that, while we are sometimes compelled to wage war, peace is the ideal to strive for on all levels — peace between individuals and peace between nations.
    4. Personal Meditation
      During the silent repetition of the Amidah, individuals add a personal meditation. The Talmud records eleven sages who added their own supplication to the Amidah. Eventually the one by Mar, a fourth-century rabbi, found its way into the prayer book. Judaism believes that one of the worst sins that we can commit is that of lashon hara (“an evil tongue”). Rabbinic opinion considers this is a worse sin than murder. It is also one of the hardest sins for frail humans to avoid. For this reason, we especially ask G-d’s help to “guard our tongues from evil and our lips from speaking deceit.” We pray for the strength to endure the calumny of others towards ourselves and ask for G-d’s intervention for justice in these matters. In keeping with Talmudic tradition, we ask G-d to open our hearts to his law. In an additional prayer which was added later to the silent meditation, we affirm that our prayer is not only for ourselves, but also for the furthering of G-d’s glory. We again ask G-d to accept our prayers and to grant us peace. Following the Silent Meditation, Full Kaddish is recited indicating that a major section of the prayer service has now concluded. [For an explanation of Full Kaddish and other forms of Kaddish, see Kaddish.]

SHABBAT MORNING TORAH SERVICE
The public reading of the Torah predates congregational prayer. Unlike other religions, the sacred books of the Jews were considered to belong to the entire community, not just a privileged few. Although our sages were responsible for its interpretation, there was no monopoly on the study of Torah. In fact, universal religious education is one of the primary precepts of traditional Judaism. Although public Scripture reading began with Moses, for a long time there was no universally established order. At different times in Jewish history various customs regarding public Torah reading were followed. Around the Maccabean period (second century B.C.E.) the rule of consecutive annual reading became the universal practice. This means that public reading must begin where it left off the previous Sabbath morning and that the entire five books of Moses are read within the year. The weekly Torah reading has been divided into 54 portions (or parshiyot) according to the number of weeks in a leap year (according to the Jewish calendar). In normal years when there are only 50 weeks, double portions are read on selected Sabbaths, in order to complete the reading of all Five Books of Moses within a one-year period. Reading of the Torah Removing the Torah from the Ark is accompanied by great ceremony. The congregation rises, a prayer is recited praising G-d and His Torah, and the Ark is opened. The congregation then recites a sentence from Numbers (10:35) relating how the Ark was carried forward in the wilderness of Sinai. Then follows a quote from Isaiah (2:3) heralding the future, messianic period. This is followed by a personal meditation (“Brikh Shemei” – “Blessed is the Name”) blessing G-d and the Torah. The Torah Scroll is then removed from the Ark and lifted up by the Prayer Leader who recites the first sentence of the Shema and several other passages which are repeated by the congregation. The Torah is then carried from the Ark to the bimah (table), from where it is read. It is usual to have seven people called to the reading of the weekly Shabbat parsha (portion). It is considered an honor to be called to the Torah, especially on special occasions (birth of a child, child’s Bar Mitzvah, marriage etc.). Each person called up recites a short blessing, follows along with the reading of the weekly portion and concludes with another blessing. An eighth person is then called up to the bimah for the MAFTIR and the reading of the prophetic portion (HAFTORA), which often paralles the message of the weekly Torah reading.

RETURNING THE TORAH
At the conclusion of the Torah Service, the Torah is returned to the Ark with great ceremony. The Prayer Leader lifts the Torah into his arms and recites part of a verse from Psalms. The Torah is then carried back to the Ark in procession (often stopping to allow congregants to touch or kiss the Torah). While this procession takes place, the congregants chant from Psalms (Psalm 24 on weekdays, and Psalm 29 on Shabbat and festivals). As the Torah is put back into the Ark, the congregation recites a passage from Numbers (10:36). Finally, the Ark is closed.

MUSSAF
During the Temple period, the Shabbat was further sanctified by a second sacrificial service known as Mussaf (which means “additional”). Now that we do not have the Temple, we further sanctify this special day with an additional Shabbat prayer service called Mussaf. The Mussaf service is similar to the morning Amidah, with the same opening and closing blessings, but with a different middle blessing. This middle blessing focuses on the sanctification of the Sabbath day through the special sacrifice which was offered in the Temple. With the destruction of the Temple and the cessation of animal sacrifice, we recite the portions of the Torah which deal with these sacrifices and pray for the speedy rebuilding of the Temple, and the ingathering of Jewish exiles to Israel. The following prayers conclude the Sabbath service:

The following prayers conclude the Sabbath service:

EIN KE’ELOHAYNU
The Ein Ke’elohaynu is a beautiful hymn extolling G-d’s uniqueness. It begins “There is none like our God; there is none like our Master; there is none like our King; there is none like our Savior.” The four designations for G-d’s name (God; Master; King; Savior) are arranged as they appear in the Torah. Each name represents a different dimension of the unique nature of G-d. The last line of the hymn is followed by Talmudic passages regarding the burning of incense in the Temple. This part of the prayer is actually educational in nature. The rabbis were concerned that each Jew engage in formal Torah study each day, so they incorporated it as part of the morning prayer service. While the insertion of learning material in a prayer service may seem odd, Judaism elevates Torah learning almost to the level of prayer itself. At this point, following the Talmudic passages, the Rabbi’s Kaddish is recited by mourners.

KADDISH
Kaddish means “sanctification”. Although this prayer is often associated with mourning, it is not a prayer for the dead; rather, it is a public sanctification of G-d’s name. Historically, it has been the duty of every Jew to publicly extol the name of G-d and to publicly testify to our faith in Him. Kaddish is recited only in a congregation because there can be no public sanctification of G-d’s name without a public assembly. The purpose of the prayer is not only to praise G-d — many other prayers do that and can be said individually. The purpose of the Kaddish is to evoke a unique, public response from the congregation: “May His great Name be blessed forever and ever”. There are four slightly different versions of the Kaddish. The Rabbi’s Kaddish is said by mourners after a portion of Torah study (as in Ein Ke’elohaynu). The Whole Kaddish is recited by the CANTOR at the conclusion of a major portion of the public prayer service and it includes a special verse asking G-d to accept all of the prayers that were recited. The Half Kaddish is an abbreviated Kaddish that is said by the Cantor at the conclusion of a minor or introductory portion of the public prayer service, and the Mourner’s Kaddish, at the end of the service (after Aleinu and the Psalm for the Day), is recited by close relatives of the deceased for 11 months following a person’s death. Whether the Kaddish is recited by a Cantor or a mourner, all members of the congregation say the responses.

ALEINU
Aleinu is the final prayer of every prayer service. According to tradition, Joshua composed the prayer after he led the Jews across the Jordan. Aleinu was originally only said in the Rosh Hashana prayer service, but sometime during the thirteenth century, it became the closing prayer for each service. The prayer consists of two paragraphs. The first paragraph praises and thanks G-d for making Israel a nation of distinct character. We draw a parallel between the vanity and emptiness of others who worship false gods, and the worship of the true G-d of Israel. We bless and praise G-d and proclaim His superiority and uniqueness. In the second paragraph, we pray for the perfection of the world under the rule of the Almighty when we will share the blessings of the true G-d with all the nations of the world. We look forward to the day when Hashem and His commandments shall reign supreme. Although Aleinu is the concluding prayer of the service, it is followed by a psalm for the day (Shir Shel Yom) and a final hymn (Adon Olam).

SHIR SHEL YOM (PSALM FOR THE DAY)
During the Temple period, it was the custom of the Levites to chant a psalm for each day of the week as part of the service. By the twelfth century, people were customarily reading the unique psalm for that day at the end of the morning prayer services. On the Sabbath Psalm 92 is recited.

ADON OLAM (ETERNAL LORD)
Adon Olam is a beautiful hymn which was probably composed in the eleventh century by Solomon ibn Gabirol. It consists of ten lines. The first six lines express the Jewish concept of G-d, and the last four lines express the faith we have in G-d.

Shabbat

The Jewish Sabbath has been called an “oasis in time.” This heavenly gift is a unique opportunity for spiritual and psychological renewal that comes every week!

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Yom Kippur

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Yom Kippur

The Day of Atonement begins at sunset.  There is a mysticism in that almost all Jews recognize the holiness of the day.

The Sabbath of Sabbaths

The tenth day of the seventh month (Tishrei), Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, begins at sunset on the previous day. There is something mystical about Yom Kippur in that almost all Jews recognize the holiness of the day: On Yom Kippur, G-d graces the world with amnesty – all one needs to do is to come and ask for it.

When we spend the day talking with G-d, we are discussing, privately, all the things for which we need such amnesty, thereby cleansing ourselves and helping us recognize how we can improve our lives. In fact, the holiday is structured for us to build towards this connection with our inner-selves and with G-d.

High Holiday Videos

High Holiday 101

Web Series

These High Holiday videos are each between 9-12 minutes long and are geared towards anyone seeking to engage fellow Jews on the High Holidays. Whether you are a rabbi, or a lay leader, your observance is traditional or more progressive, you will benefit from these engaging videos.

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Yom Kippur Resources

High Holiday Programs

Join or partner with us in one of our renowned High Holiday programs.

High Holiday Prayer Workshop

The High Holiday Prayer Workshop (HHPW) is designed for those who seek meaning in a service they find difficult to relate to and hard to understand. Based on the Abridged Beginners Service, the Prayer Workshop…

COVID-19 | Program Status

Out of an abundance of caution due to the spread of the Coronavirus and heeding the recommendation of medical professionals to forgo large gatherings for the time being, NJOP will not be going forward with our High Holiday Beginners Service programs this year. We hope to reinstate the initiative in future years. We pray for the speedy and complete recovery of all those who have contracted the virus and the safety of all others.

Thank you for your understanding.

High Holiday Beginners Service

Looking for something different for this year’s High Holidays? If you are one of thousands of Jews around the country who are curious but wary or hesitant about High Holiday services, NJOP invites you to start here…

Abridged High Holiday Beginners Service

A brief and dynamic program designed to appeal to, and inspire, those who may not have attended a High Holiday Service in some time. This brief program enables participants to appreciate the majesty and beauty of the Rosh Hashana and…

Send us message to have us contact you about running any of our High Holiday programs or call 1-800-44-HEBREW.