Shana Tova Umetuka – 5778

Shana Tova!

Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, begins tonight, and lasts for 2 days, until sundown on Friday night.  This year, since Rosh Hashana falls on Thursday and Friday, we then run straight into Shabbat, giving us a 3-day festival (so I won’t be online again until Sunday at the earliest).  The Jewish year follows the lunar calendar, and the number counts the number of years since Creation. This year we will mark the beginning of 5778.

To quote from previous Rosh Hashana posts, Rosh Hashana is not marked by great parties and merry-making for the Jewish New Year is also known as the Day of Judgement, the day when all humans are held accountable before Heaven for their good deeds and bad, and their fate for the coming year is decided. A good part of the two days of the festival is spent in emotional and uplifting prayers in the synagogue where we acclaim G-d as the King of Israel and as King of the whole universe, and where we ask Him to write us in the Book of Life, which remains open until Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) in 10 days time, giving us time to repent and atone for our sins.

The holiday is marked with the blowing of the Shofar (the ram’s horn), which is meant to literally sound an alarm to wake us up from our bad ways and return us to the righteous path.

Here’s a short clip to give you an idea of what the Shofar sounds like. In the synagogue it will be sounded altogether 100 times in two sets of 30 and 4 sets of 10.

We also eat sweet foods to symbolise our wish for a sweet New Year. A classic staple at the Rosh Hashana table is the apple, which is round, symbolising the cycle of the year, dipped in honey for a sweet new year.

Even our Challahs are baked in a round shape to symbolise the circle of life and the circle of the year. They are often extra-sweet and have raisins inside for added sweetness. Here are my very own challot freshly baked out of the oven 🙂

On the second night of Rosh Hashana it is traditional to eat a fruit from the new season. The most popular fruit is the pomegranate, because of the beauty of its shape, because it is one of the 7 species of produce native to the Land of Israel, and because it is traditionally believed that it has 613 seeds, the same as the number of mitzvot (commandments) that a Jew is commanded to keep. May, the British Prime Minister, invited dignitaries of the Jewish community to a reception to wish us all Shana Tova. She also expressed strong support for Israel:

The US President Donald Trump also wished us Shana Tova, reaffirming the unbreakable bond between the US and Israel:

Every Rosh Hashana, the Israeli Bureau of Statistics issues the latest population figures, and this year, as in every previous year, we are delighted to learn that our population has grown, now hitting 8.7 million:

Israel’s population stood at 8.743 million on the eve of the Jewish new year, up some 156,000 people from the previous year.

The population growth rate was 1.8 percent, similar to recent years, according to data published Monday by the Central Bureau of Statistics to mark Rosh Hashanah.

Jews make up nearly three-quarters of the population at 6.5 million, while Israel’s almost 1.8 million Arabs make up just over one-fifth of the population. Those of other backgrounds, such as Druze, non-Arab Christians, and those not categorized as members of a religious group, make up less than 4.5% of the population, at 396,000 people.

Israel’s birth rate was 3.11 on the year, with 181,405 babies being born.

The birth rate, the highest in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a club of mostly Western developed economies, was four times greater than the death rate, with 43,000 people dying over the last year.

I am proud to say that our family “contributed” two babies to this wonderful total. ❤


Yonatan is shocked at the news!

The article continues:

The country also saw 27,000 people move to Israel over the last year, of whom 25,000 were new immigrants. Of the new immigrants, the highest number came from countries in the former Soviet Union, followed by France and the United States.

The CBS said Israel’s population would continue to grow in the years ahead and is expected to reach 10 million people by 2024 and 20 million by 2065.

The even better news comes at the end:

Among Israelis aged 20 years and over, 88% said they were content or very content with their lives, while only 6% said they often felt lonely.

Considering the volatile and dangerous region in which we live, this is fantastic news on all levels – the immigration rate, the birth rate, and the level of happiness. It shows that we are on the right path, that Hashem is with us, and that we are doing something right after all! Long may this continue!

And yet with the turmoil all round us in the Middle East we shall have to pray with special fervour to Hashem that He grant us a year of tranquillity and peace, and that He grant our leaders and the leaders of the free world the wisdom and the courage to act wisely and for the good of all of us.

If I have offended anyone during this past year I ask forgiveness of them and sincerely apologize.

May I wish all my family, friends, and readers worldwide שנה טובה ומתוקה – Shana Tova Umetuka.  A Happy and Sweet New Year.  May we all be blessed with a year of good health, joy, prosperity and peace.  May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life.

תכלה שנה וקללותיה, תחל שנה וברכותיה

Let the current year and its curses be over, let the new year and its blessings begin.

לשנה טובה תכתבו ותחתמו

May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a happy new year.

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12 Responses to Shana Tova Umetuka – 5778

  1. Pingback: Shana Tova Umetuka – 5778 – 24/6 Magazine

  2. Thank you, dear Ann. I would like to wish you, the Jews all over the world and everybody in this globe to have the best of the best year. That we, all of us, especially the Muslims, forget the word “war” and adopt the word “peace”. This will change the world.
    Shana Tova
    In friendship

  3. ShimonZ says:

    Wishing you and your family a very good year, with good health, a good living, and happiness. And it seems that this is a good venue to wish all of Israel that we may hear good news, and enjoy peace in our time, enjoying deliverance and rebuilding of our holy temple in the coming year, with peace for us and for all of mankind.

  4. Nice post. Shana Tova! May there be peace in the world. Amen.

  5. Brian Goldfarb says:

    With apologies for posting on Rosh Hashonah (but regular readers will know that I am highly secular, even if I did go to synagogue today and will go again tomorrow – although Anne won’t, as Israelis, being in the Holy Land, observe only one day, getting the chronology exactly right, while we in the Diaspora observe two days, which, despite the astronomers being able to get the timing exactly right, we continue to do), I’d like to extend a point Anne makes.

    Yes, Rosh Hashonah reminds Jews that this is NOT a celebration of the New Year, as is 31st December in the conventional secular world, but a lead up to the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), when we ask the Almighty for forgiveness for the sins we have committed against our religious and ethical practices, and to be written in to the Book of Life for a good year. Which reminds me of the mini-sermon our previous Rabbi delivered just before the final prayers on Yom Kippur: almost a shaggy dog story. He recounted a saga of delivering an application for his daughter’s next school through a minute crack between two halves of the school’s front door, when the school was closed. Why? Because the doors to repentance were not quite closed, and if we prayed fervently enough, there was still a minute crack through which our prayers could be squeezed!

    However, I was also reminded that Amos Oz and his daughter Fania Oz-Sulzberger co-wrote a book entitled “Jews and Words”, in which they argued that ours (the Jews) link was not a blood line but, rather, a text line: we truly are the “People of the Book(s)”! Additionally, they noted that many (but not all: the Fasts are the obvious exceptions) of our festivals take the form of “they tried to kill us, they failed. Let’s eat!”

    Even Rosh Hashonah follows this pattern, at least to an extent: after synagogue, we (my wife and I) went back to friends for an extended lunch.

    A thought occurs: this was written at 22.30 BST, which equates to 00.30 Israeli time. It’s no longer Yom Tov in Israel as I write, so Anne can read it when she wakes up and not get offended. And I haven’t broken any rules. I hope!

    • anneinpt says:

      Shana tova, Brian!

      First of all a minor correction, Rosh Hashana is a 2 day festival even in Israel, the only one in the year. This goes back to Mishnaic times. I did learn the reason why once but am embarrassed to say that I’ve forgotten. Hubby says he will look it up in the Mishna and Gemara if I want.

      And of coruse this year, it became a 3-day chag with Shabbat tacked on at the end. I’m just emerging from the over-indulgence in prayer and food!

      Secondly, I really don’t get offended if people don’t keep to the same strictures as I do. Everyone chooses their own path, and as long as no one imposes on another person, it’s all good. 🙂

      So I hope you had a good Rosh Hashana and I wish you and your family and very happy and healthy New Year.

  6. Reality says:

    Shana Tova to you and yours too

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