Press Release: Rosh Hashana 101


Sunday night, October 2, begins the most holy of all Jewish holidays, Rosh Hashana (“head” of the year), or the Jewish New Year. According to Jewish tradition, this marks the anniversary of the creation of the world – welcome to the year 5777!  All Jewish holidays begin at sundown – in the Book of Genesis, after God created a ‘day,’ it says, “it was evening, it was morning, the first, (second, etc.) day.” The Hebrew calendar is lunar, so although Rosh Hashana always occurs on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishri, it will correspond to a different date each year in the Gregorian calendar. It is always in the fall. Rosh Hashana is a celebratory holiday, but there are also deeper spiritual meanings.

Rosh Hashana is the beginning of the 10 days of Awe, during which Jews reflect on their actions over the past year and seek forgiveness from those they may have wronged, including God. However, before we can be forgiven by God, we must right the wrongs we have committed against humans. In Judaism, the word for a “sin” is “chet,” from an archery term, which means “to miss the mark.”  Judaism’s view is that all people are essentially good, and sin is a product of our errors, or missing the mark. We are imperfect, but can return to a better path, a truer arrow, and a better way of doing things. We must sincerely try not to repeat our mistakes and must grant forgiveness to those who may have done us wrong, as well.  It is an amazing opportunity to start fresh again!

A highlight of the High Holy Days is hearing the Shofar, a ram’s horn that is blown daily during the month before Rosh Hashana, and on Rosh Hashana itself.  It represents the ram that was sacrificed by Abraham, instead of his son, Isaac.  Its specific calls or blasts are meant to wake us up and give us as keen sense of awareness. It is commanded that you must hear the call of the Shofar during Rosh Hashana.

There are many food customs (and a festive meal is a must!), but the most common food practice is dipping apples in honey for a sweet new year. As Rosh Hashana represents the birth of the world, our traditional sweet bread, challah, is braided into a round shape, representing the circle of life and seasons and the shape of the earth.  We have some of the best challah bakers in the world in Crested Butte.

B’nai Butte, the East River Valley’s Jewish community, will observe Rosh Hashana on October second, third, and fourth. Our celebration includes services with both traditional and contemporary music; festive meals, a hike and a Torah reading (from a sacred 150 year-old scroll), discussions and a Shofar of the service in the mountains, and the opportunity to do “tashlich” – the casting away of our shortcomings in Peanut Lake, using crumbs.   We welcome students of all faiths to join us – there is no charge,  and we will feed you some pretty awesome meals!  Details can be found at:, or on our Facebook page: B’nai Butte Congregation, or here in the pages of the Crested Butte News or the Gunni Times.

Next week: Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) 101

Wishing everyone “Shana Tovah” – a happy New Year!