This coming week, Jews in South Dakota, Israel and around the world will be celebrating the Jewish New Year known as “Rosh Hashanah.” The holiday begins at sundown on Sept. 20 and ends after nightfall on Friday, Sept. 22.
We observe this day by hearing the sounding of the Shofar (a special ram’s horn crafted for this purpose), praying in Synagogue, dipping an apple in honey and other rituals.
The Jewish Holidays commemorate significant occurrences in Jewish history. Passover, the Exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Shavuot, the revelation at Mt. Sinai. Sukkot, G-ds protection of the Israelites during their forty year journey through the desert. Yom Kippur, the day of atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf.
Rosh Hashana is different.
The great Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, noted that Rosh Hashanah is in fact relevant and meaningful for all of humanity. It commemorates creation. More specifically, it is the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve – the first human beings – as recorded in the Bible.
Like Adam and Eve, who were formed and created by God himself, every human being, of all races and creeds, is created in his image, with a unique purpose that only he or she can fulfill. The shared goal of humanity is to transform this world into a place of goodness and kindness, thereby revealing the inherent divinity within it.
Humans are granted free choice and doing the right thing is not a given. Bringing the world to perfection depends on the choices we each make every day.
Imagine waking in the morning and recognizing that today is a new miracle. We were once again granted the gift of life and as our thanks to God, we chose to make this world even better than it was yesterday. A new day brings new opportunities for good.
By unleashing our potential, we have the power to transform the world. Affix a charity box at your home or office and give a few coins each day for those in need. Add an extra dollar to your employees’ paychecks and encourage them to get involved in charitable acts. Treat others with respect. Show more consideration for your family, friends and neighbors.
One person at a time. One good deed at a time. One good choice at a time.
Rosh Hashanah is the day God judges not only the Jewish people, but all mankind, and indeed all of his creations. As I pray this year and blow the Shofar, all my fellow citizens across the great state of South Dakota will be in my thoughts, to be inscribed and sealed in the book of life for a year of health, happiness, peace and prosperity.
Rabbi Mendel Alperowitz
Serving the spiritual needs of the South Dakota Jewish community. Based in Sioux Falls and travels the state.