Rosh Hashana is just around the corner. Have you thought about what you’re getting the Earth for its birthday?
That’s right. One of the many traditions associated with the Jewish New Year is the creation of the world. Rosh Hashana is a great time to show your appreciation for your Mother Earth.
Earth-friendly ways to celebrate Rosh Hashanah:
Send Rosh Hashanah greeting cards to your family and friends on recycled paper. This is a great way to reflect on your relationships over the past year and spread the message of environmental sensitivity.
Celebrate the New Year by wearing a new article of clothing made from eco-friendly textiles like organic cotton. Be sure your new clothing was produced in a sweatshop-free environment!
Educate yourself and others on the issues of climate change. Get involved in Focus the Nation, www.focusthenation.com, a national one-day teach-in aimed at finding a solution to global warming.
Make a New Year’s resolution to live a greener lifestyle. Check out www.treehugger.com, a resource for green news, solutions and product information.
The month leading up to Rosh Hashana is Elul. Here are some additional High Holy Day fun facts:
Although Elul has little biblical significance, in the last 200 years it has become a time to thoughtfully prepare for upcoming holidays by engaging in repentance and in self-reflection.
The first of Elul is one of four New Years celebrated throughout the Jewish calendar. Though this was originally meant as the date in which Israelites donated a specific portion of their cattle to the priestly class, this practice stopped in the post-temple period.
Not only is the shofar sounded on Rosh Hashanah, but it is also sounded throughout the month of Elul on weekday mornings in order to stir the soul.
According to a traditional interpretation, the name Elul is an acronym for a verse from Song of Songs (6:3) that translates to, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” The sages take this to mean that we gain closeness to God as we approach the judgment of the High Holidays with love, not fear.
In Aramaic, Elul means “to search,” which is appropriate as we carefully consider our behavior in the past year and in the year to come.
In the month of Elul, it is customary to recite selichot, penitential prayers of forgiveness. Selichot were traditionally prayers said during the six days of fast leading up to Rosh Hashanah, but those six days are no longer fast days and selichot are now said throughout the month of Elul during weekday morning services.
Around the time of the High Holidays, it is customary to end letters, emails and phone calls with a friendly “Shana Tova U’metuka,” which translates to, “a good and sweet new year.”
Want to learn more about the month of Elul? Go to hillel.myjewishlearning.com to learn more in-depth about this topic and other fascinating elements of the current Jewish month.