The year is 5771. No really, it is. Sundown last Thursday marked the first day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and day one of year 5771 on the Hebrew calendar. Rosh Hashanah is the first celebration of the 10 Days of Repentance that make up the High Holy Days, ending on Saturday with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
While there are other well-known Jewish holidays, such as Passover, the High Holy Days are especially important because they are a time of introspection and self-evaluation. Much like the Western calendar’s New Year, Rosh Hashanah is a time to reflect on the events and actions of the past year and set goals for the upcoming year.
The 10 Days of Repentance are an opportunity to seek God’s forgiveness. Practicing Jews do this by contacting and apologizing to everyone they have wronged in the past year.
Yom Kippur is the most solemn day of the Jewish year. It is also the most culturally significant of the Jewish holidays, and many secular Jews who otherwise are generally inactive in their faith attend synagogue.
Both of Costa Rica’s synagogues, Chabad Lubavitch (Orthodox) and B’nai Israel (progressive/reform) hold services for the high holidays.
The High Holy Days are a time for seriousness and reverence, but they are also cause for celebration. Jews celebrate by making and eating food specially prepared at this time of year.
On Rosh Hashanah, the new year’s goals are symbolized by eating apples and honey in hope of a “sweet” year to come.
For more on this story, see the Sept. 17 print or digital edition of The Tico Times.