Friday, 6 September 2013

shofar, shogood

Rosh Hashanah garnered a bit of publicity by a friendly and surprising missive, but although the name of the holiday means “head of the year” it is not exactly like New Year's Eve on the Jewish calendar.

Instead Rosh Hashanah is the anniversary of the creation of the the first man and first woman (Adam and Lilith, the first and more liberated mate) and marks a time for solemnity and self-reflection. Three ledgers are updated this day, one for the good, one for the wicked and one for those somewhere in between. In fact there are four distinct beginnings commemorated on the Jewish calendar, the first day of the first month that marks the beginning of time (1. Tishei) to count the passage of years, the agricultural new year for planting (15. Shevat), a new year for the counting of months and reckoning when festivals fall (1. Nisan)—like the Moveable Feast of Easter, and a new year for figuring tithing obligations for livestock (1. Elud). It's not a simple matter and certainly not just your typical revelry—learning about the culture is quite interesting and nuanced in unexpected way, however certain traditions have been translated into the Christian calendar, like eating black-eyed peas for good luck and the conventional German New Year's greeting of “gute Rutsch!” a successful sliding, transition into the new year, originated from the Yiddish for a good Rosh.