Ask the rabbi: What's wrong with Rosh Hashana?

The nonobservant may peek into a synagogue or stand outside it on Yom Kippur, but not on Rosh Hashanah.

August 15, 2018 23:27
Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)


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In Israel Rosh Hashanah is the most neglected of all the holy days of the Jewish year. Whereas in the Diaspora it is one of the most im- portant days, in Israel it much more of a vacation time than a religious occasion. For the vast majority of nonobservant Israelis, it is a wonderful time to enjoy a day out, especially since it is the only two-day holiday we have. Otherwise, it is largely ignored. The nonobservant may peek into a synagogue or stand outside it on Yom Kippur, but not on Rosh Hashanah.

The reason for this neglect may be that of all the Jewish holy days, it is the least colorful, lacking any agricultural connection, any connection to national history and any interesting folk customs that might attract an otherwise unobservant person. The only significant event is the blowing of the shofar. Unless you are a believing Jew, why take notice of it? If you are not a synagogue-goer, you have no way of observing it except through a family meal. That is unfortunate because Rosh Hashanah is really a very rich and meaningful occasion. It has a long history and a variety of meanings, perhaps more than any other holy day.


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