Rosh Hashanah is the birthday of the world. I’m not sure how birthdays are treated in your household, but in my home, birthdays are a BIG deal, a day devoted to celebrating how much better the world is for having the beautiful birthday neshama in it! On our secular calendar, New Year’s Day takes place January 1st, the first day of the first month. Rosh Hashanah falls on the first day of the seventh month, Tishrei. Why the seventh? We learn that Nissan, the first month on the Jewish calendar, is the beginning of the year for months, but that Tishrei marks the beginning of years for years. Cleared up? Good!
Rosh Hashanah is our opportunity to celebrate the notion of creation, the miracle that is the world and the ongoing process of partnering with Hashem to make our world a better place. I look at the world and see endless possibilities. When my wife and I had our first child, we knew that instilling a deep sense of respect and appreciation for Hashem and our world were foundational values critical to raising the next generation of compassionate Jewish leaders. In the past year I have thru-hiked portions of the Appalachian Trail with my oldest child, and we have completed two cross-country road trips with all three kids under four. We have visited over 22 states and several national parks.
I am proud to be a rabbi and honored that my children will grow up understanding that a rabbi does not simply exist in a sanctuary. This Rosh Hashanah celebrate through living your values. Interact with your rabbis. Ask questions. The High Holiday services are not a performance, though the sights and sounds you encounter are impressive and meant to reinforce the importance of these days.
Consider buying a Machzor if you do not already have one on your bookshelf. Look through it before Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Do not come empty-handed to this birthday celebration! This year find a new way to connect to your Jewish heritage and commit yourself to being a more present partner with Hashem.
Rabbi Charyn is the spiritual leader of Temple Beth David in Gwinnett County.