In preparation for and during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur we search our souls. And we do this together in community.  Community has always been at the heart of the Jewish High Holidays. At Jewish Senior Life of Metropolitan Detroit, residents and staff recognize the importance of living together in a warm and welcoming community. We remember and discuss the cherished sights, tastes, and sounds of Rosh Hashanah. We talk about the taste of honey on our tongues, and the way we used to cling to our mothers as we stood during the somber moments of worship… and the awe-inspiring sounds of the shofar piercing the air to wake us from our slumber every year. 

When we contemplate the messages behind the holidays, we think of those who came before us: our sages who found meaning and messages behind the commandments we fulfill. As staff at JSL prepare to hold special ceremonies led by volunteers, those in dining services set tables, order supplies, others secure buildings, make lists and phone calls and many remember to visit residents who are ill. Repentance, Prayer and Charity are the focuses of the Jewish people. Year after year the chain remains unbroken and together, we celebrate the first day of the 7th month of the Jewish New Year with meaningful prayers, inspiring songs and hope.  

Rosh Hashanah is the yearly anniversary of creation, when we awaken from our spiritual slumber and make new and hopefully better decisions about our own self-improvement. The sounds of the shofar remind us to examine our deeds and correct our ways, as we return to the path of Gd.  Historically, the shofar was blown at Mt. Sinai when the Torah was given. On Rosh Hashanah, the head of the year, we mark the creation of the world when we blow the shofar and recall the cries and tears shed for the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and for all the conflict and difficulties in our world today. 

The shofar, made of a ram’s horn, reminds us of the binding of Isaac and the ram G-d provided as a sacrifice in Isaac’s place. By blowing the shofar, we remember the faith of our Matriarchs and Patriarchs and our own capacity for self-sacrifice. Rosh Hashanah is Judaism’s holiest day leading up to Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. Some Jews pray near a body of water in a Tashlich ceremony, in addition to tossing pieces of bread or other food into the water to symbolize casting off our sins.  

And who doesn’t enjoy the after-worship celebration (the after party) featuring delicious and sweet High Holiday meals with friends and loved ones around festive ceremonial tables filled with our favorite dishes like honey cakes and a round braided raisin challah. We add Pomegranate seeds to our salads and other dishes to represent the 613 mitzvot, cited in the Torah.   

The tables are carefully set, and we wish each other sweet prayers of hopefulness for a good year ahead. We remember to thank our hosts and hostesses. We remember our loved ones who are no longer with us and savor our own special memories of past holidays. We make meaningful donations to the special charities we love, and we try again and again to practice being better humans.  

On behalf of Jewish Senior Life, all of us, wish all of you and your loved ones – a year of good health, prosperity and joy. And we forgive each other and ourselves for past hurts and any pain we may have caused. And we resolve to let go of this pain and move forward with life affirming activities. Rosh Hashanah is the best opportunity to renew our allegiance to G-d who said, “Behold, I make all things new.”  

Shabbat Shalom and Shanah Tova.  

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