Congregation Beth El Binah rings in the new year

Posted on 28 Sep 2011 at 2:51pm
Fisch.Rabbi-Steve

Happy 5772.

Congregation Beth El Binah celebrates Rosh HaShanah, literally “Head of the Year,” with services at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center at 8 p.m. today and 10:30 a.m. Thursday. Services will be conducted by Rabbi Steve Fisch (right), who was hired by the synagogue earlier this summer. The morning service will be followed by a catered lunch. Anyone is welcome to attend services.

Rosh HaShanah, the New Year, begins a month of holidays on the Jewish calendar.

Oct. 1 is Shabbat Shuvah, the sabbath that falls between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. That Shabbat is considered the most holy Shabbat of the year.

Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement, on Saturday, Oct. 8, is considered the holiest day of the year and is marked with services all day and fasting. The first service is Kol Nidre at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7. Services resume Saturday at 10 a.m. Yizkor service, the service of remembrance, begins at 5 p.m. Break the fast will be at the community center at sunset.

Sukkot is a week-long feast. The holiday marks the harvest and is celebrated as Thanksgiving. The holiday begins Oct. 12 at sunset and runs eight days. Beth El Binah celebrates the holiday at a home in East Dallas on Friday, Oct. 14 with a service and meal.

Traditionally, Jews build a sukkah, or booth, in their yard. This commemorates the temporary shelters that were built in the fields for meals and sleeping during the harvest. And remember not to glean your fields. Any grains that drop are to be left for the poor.

Beth El Binah observes that by collecting food for the Resource Center Dallas Food Pantry on Yom Kippur and Sukkot.

The month ends with two more holidays — Shmini Atzeret (The Eighth Day) and Simchat Torah (Joy of the Torah). On Simchat Torah, Jews read the last passages of the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) and the roll the scroll back to the beginning to read the first verses of B’reishit (Genesis). That holiday will be celebrated by Beth El Binah at Shabbat service on Oct. 28. Shmini Atzeret marks the end of Sukkot. Since the harvest is over, it’s now time to pray for rain. But no one really does that anymore because it makes Jews look like crazy people who gather in a stadium with a delusional governor.

Jewish holidays always begin at sunset because the Jewish day begins at sunset. The concept of midnight is relatively new. In Biblical times, no one had watches. Sunset was observable, so that’s when the day begins.

But here’s one that there’s really no logical reason for: Why does Rosh Hashanah, the new year, fall on the first day of the seventh month on the Jewish calendar? New Year originally was marked on the first day of the first month, but that was the new year of kings. Jewish holidays do not honor people so that new year celebration was eliminated and was moved to a different new year. (Jews have several of them — new year of trees in January, the ecclesiastical new year, and others no one has ever heard of).

And why do the holidays move around? The Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar with 12 months that are each 29 or 30 days. Seven out of 19 years are leap years with a leap month. Make you ferklempt? Somehow, it actually works. And happy 5772, the new year that starts at sunset counting from the first stories in the Bible. And no, Jews don’t believe that dinosaurs and people lived on earth at the same time.

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