Scales, symbolizing the fact that individuals and the world are judged during this month.Significance of the Month
Although it is the seventh month of the Jewish calendar, Tishrei feels like the beginning of a new year. Tishrei is the month richest with Jewish holidays. During this month individuals and the world are judged. Tishrei also marks the harvest season and the beginning of the rain season. Tishrei is the only month in which Rosh Chodesh is not formally observed, since the first of Tishrei is Rosh Hashanah.Holidays
Tishrei contains more holidays than any other month in the Jewish calendar. Rosh Hashanah
, the Jewish New Year, is on the first and second of Tishrei. According to the Mishnah, Rosh Hashanah is the New Year for the counting of calendar years, Sabbatical and Jubilee years, planting, and vegetables. Furthermore, all inhabitants of the world are judged on Rosh Hashanah. On Rosh Hashanah, the shofar is sounded 100 times each day (unless it is Shabbat). On the second day of Rosh Hashanah, Tashlich, a symbolic casting away of our sins, is said next to flowing water. Traditionally, we eat food that symbolizes the new year and our wishes that it should be sweet and healthy. Apples and honey are an old-time favorite. The days from Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippur are known as the Ten Days of Repentance.
The day after Rosh Hashanah, the 3rd of Tishrei is called Tzom Gedaliah, or the Fast of Gedaliah. After the First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, a small Jewish community remained in the Land of Israel with Gedaliah ben Achikam serving as governor. This small community was the last vestige of Jewish autonomy. Gedaliah was assassinated by a fellow Jew hired by the King of Ammon.Yom Kippur
(the Day of Atonement), the 10th of Tishrei, is the most holy day in the Jewish calendar. On this day, spent fasting and praying we receive atonement for all of our sins.Sukkot
, the Fall Harvest festival falls on the 15th of Tishrei. On this joyous holiday we leave the comforts of our homes and dwell in Sukkot, or temporary huts. Along with dwelling in the sukkah, we celebrate by lifting and shaking the four species - a palm branch, three branches of myrtle, two willow branches and a citron - commonly referred to as lulav and etrog.Shemini Atzeret
occurs immediately after Sukkot, on the 22nd of Tishrei. It is considered its own holiday, but is often associated with Sukkot. On Shemini Atzeret the world is judged for water, and we say special prayers asking for rain. Shemini Atzeret also focuses on God's special relationship between the Jewish people and God.Simchat Torah
is celebrated the same day as Shemini Atzeret in Israel and by Reform Jews. Outside of Israel, where Jewish legal tradition requires that two days be kept, Simchat Torah occurs on the day following Shemini Atzeret. On Simchat Torah we celebrate the completion of the yearly cycle of Torah reading and begin it anew. We mark our celebration by dancing and singing with the Torah. There is a tradition that everyone is called up the Torah on Simchat Torah to recite the Torah blessings, in order to celebrate the Torah and every Jew's relationship to it.Women to Celebrate
Eve - The first woman. We read about Eve in the section of the Torah that deals with the creation of humans.Lilith
- She is referred to in Isaiah 34:14. Not much is known about Lilith and there are several conflicting traditions about Lilith in Jewish sources. The Talmud identifies Lilith as wild-haired and winged creature with nymphomaniac tendencies; and as the mother of demons. The Alphabet of Ben Sirah, which was probably written some time between 600-1000 CE identifies her as Adam's first wife and the predecessor of Eve. Midrashic literature depict her as a child slayer. Lilith has been claimed as a hero by modern feminists.
Sarah the Matriarch - During Tishei we blow the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah. Many Jewish sources connect the Shofar with Sarah. For more see the text study "Sarah is the Shofar" below.Famous Women's YahrzeitsRay Frank
- 8 Tishrei 5709 (October 10, 1948). The first woman to preach publicly from a pulpit, she was known as "the Girl Rabbi of the Golden West." She was never ordained as a rabbi, but paved the way for women to serve as rabbis and other leadership positions.Beatrice Alexander
- 14 Tishrei 5751 (October 3, 1990). The founder of The Alexander Doll Company, she was known as the "First Lady of Dolls." From the obscurity of an immigrant neighborhood, she became one of the foremost female entrepreneurs of the Twentieth Century.Text Studies
Sarah is the Shofar - The following text study connects Sarah our Matriarch with the shofar that is sounded on Rosh Hashanah.Sarah is the Shofar
(PDF file 131Kb)
[Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader
version 4.0 or higher.]
Teshuva & the Dilemma of Free Will - The process of Teshuva (repentance) intensifies greatly with Rosh Hashanahh and Yom Kippur. This text study presents some classical sources regarding the dilemma of free will.
Teshuva & the Dilemma of Free Will (PDF file 165Kb)
[Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader version 4.0 or higher.]
Into the Mystic - On Sukkot there is a Kabalistic tradition to invite different Ushpizin, or historical guests, into the Sukkah. Learn about this tradition and think of which other guests from Jewish history you would like to invite.
Into the Mystic (PDF file 13Kb)Activities
[Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader version 4.0 or higher.]
Set goals for the Rosh Chodesh group - Tishrei is the month that many Rosh Chodesh groups will meet for the first time. During the first meeting it is important to establish goals for the group. You may want to use Hillel's text study "Blessed be Your Coming, Blessed be Your Going."
Make decorations for the Sukkah - Your decorations may include historical women that you would like to invite into the Sukkah. For more on this see the text study "Into the Mystic."
Tashlich - On Rosh Hashanah this ritual is performed by running water and is a chance to metaphorically cast away our sins from the previous year. Have each woman take scraps of paper and write down either a sin or regret from the past year. As a collective, these scraps of paper are burned together. Then, each woman should construct and decorate a "Hope Box," in which she will record her hopes and wishes for each new month.
Symbols for the New Year - We are familiar with the tradition to eat apples and honey to symbolize a sweet New Year. It is customary to be inventive with food puns on Rosh Hashanahh and customize a blessing that can belong uniquely to the person who expresses it. Think of your own food puns that express your wishes and blessings to the group for the New Year. Conversations
The High Holidays - What do Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur mean to you? How do you celebrate them? How do you prepare for them?
Thanksgiving a Little Bit Early -- Sukkot is the Jewish Thanksgiving. In ancient times during this holiday Jews would rejoice over all that God had provided for them. Talk about those things for which you are thankful. How do you express your gratitude?
Welcome Back to School - Tishrei is the month that many Rosh Chodesh groups will meet for the first time. Discuss members' hopes and aspirations for the new school year. Share and reflect on what everyone did over summer break.