Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is a major annual celebration but is very different from the secular New Year.
“There are no popping champagne corks and party-poppers at midnight, because there’s a completely different mood,” says Trevor Creewel, a lay leader and executive member of the Temple David Progressive Congregation in Perth.
“There’s a muted sense of celebration, the mood is one of gratitude that the Almighty has granted us another year in this world. But, even more than that, Rosh Hashanah signals the start of the Yamim Nora’im—the Days of Awe. These are the nine days leading up to the most solemn day of the year—Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.”
It is said that on Rosh Hashanah God writes into the Book of Life the names of all of those who will live another year, and then on Yom Kippur the Book is sealed.
“The Days of Awe therefore give us all nine days in which to search our souls and our deeds over the past year, to identify all unworthy thoughts and actions so that we can commit ourselves to eliminating such lapses during the coming year.
“The services on Rosh Hashanah are solemn and soul-searching. We dress in our best clothes to show respect to God. At the end of the services we go home to a festive meal with family and friends, to give thanks for and to enjoy the good things that God has provided for us, before settling down to the nine days of intense introspection that end with Yom Kippur.”
This year, Rosh Hashanah begins on Friday 18 and ends on the evening of Sunday 20 September. The exact date varies every year as it is based on the Hebrew Calendar, however, it is almost always in September or October.
Apart from being an executive member of the Temple David Progressive Congregation in Perth, Trevor Creewel is an executive member of the Union for Progressive Judaism of Australia, New Zealand and Asia; and an executive member of the Council of Christians and Jews, Western Australia.