These coming weeks are very important in the Jewish and Hebrew calendar – many Jewish people around the world are celebrating the holidays of the month of Tishrei, the first month of the Hebrew year. This month, which is usually around September and October, symbolizes the beginning of a new year and new beginnings. There are three major holidays during Tishrei, which are celebrated one after the other. The first one is Rosh Hashanah which is the Jewish new year and its translation is ’the head of the year’. Few days later takes place the famous Yom Kippur, which is considered to be the most important day for the Jewish people, and last to come is Sukkoth.

Besides the religious and traditional practices of the Jewish people during these days, there is a unique atmosphere that distinguishes this month from any other month. Moreover, there is beautiful philosophy behind all the costumes that everyone can identify with, religious or secular, Jewish or not Jewish. According to the Jewish tradition and culture, in Rosh Hashanah begins a new stage – the stage of our self judgment. Not only that a new calendar year begins, it is also the time of the year when we have the opportunity to stop our busy lives for a moment, and to truly asked ourselves, what did we achieve in the past year, what kind of people we were, and the most important, what do we wish for ourselves for the new year to come. This judgment can be done in the individual level, but also in the collective level- we can judge ourselves as a society, as a state, and so on.

On the 4th of October will take place Yom Kippur. According to the Jewish faith and tradition, this day is the ‘official’ day of forgiveness. Even though not all the Jewish people necessarily perform all the costumes of Yom Kippur (such as fasting, not working, not doing anything besides reading and praying), many people do find this day as a good opportunity for asking for forgiveness, and also an opportunity to take a break from daily life. You can ask for forgiveness from yourself, from god, from your friends and family, or from anyone that you might have hurt during the last year.

I find these days to be very beautiful and with a lot of content. They are truly a great opportunity to stop for a moment and think about yourself, your life, your achievements and your dreams and hopes for the future. These festive and holy days, together with the fall that comes at the same time of the year, give me this great feeling of new beginnings. I hope that the new year to come will be a better and a greater year than the last one. Although I am no longer in Israel and it is very hard to create here the special atmosphere that I am referring to, I try my best and even only by myself, to reenact the tradition I grew up with, and to remind myself where I am coming from.

I recommend all of you, even though technically the year is not over yet, to take these coming days as an opportunity to clear your mind and your soul. Ask yourselves if you were good, and what would you like to achieve in the future. Judge yourselves to see if you might have hurt someone during this year. If so take this time to say sorry and ask for forgiveness.

Now with clear and clean minds and souls you can move on to the new year. Happy New Jewish Year! Shana Tova!

Lees ook deel één, twee, drie, vier, vijfzes, zeven, acht, negen en tien van  ‘A diary of an Israeli woman in the Netherlands’.


Ronie Barel

verhuisde van Israël naar Nederland, activist, blogger

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