Birthday of the World
ROSH HASHONE, the birthday of the world, begins with the sighting of the new moon on the first day of the seventh month after Passover, the exodus from slavery. It is also called yom ha-din, Judgment Day, and yom ha-zikaron, Remembrance Day, as we blow the ram’s horn, arouse our sense of judgment, and try to be merciful with ourselves and with each other.
It’s a time to place stones on graves and recall how the dead shaped our lives when they were alive. It’s a time to sculpt our own fate, overcome inertia, switch paths. It’s a time for renewing friendships and healing old wounds. It’s a time to make things right.
In the ancient days, it was a season of harvest and the coronation of kings. It marked the sixth day of creation, when earthlings were believed to have been created from the earth. It also marked the start of the sabbatical year, every seven years, when labor desisted throughout the community, and the jubilee year, every half century, when debt was annulled and land was redistributed.
Rosh Hashone is a time for braided sweet bread and honey-dipped apples. It’s a time to stand by flowing water with bread crumbs and an open heart. It’s a time for long walks and good cries. It is a time to say “l’shana tova” and give people a kiss.
Someone in the world is waiting for you to do something. This is a good time to do it.
Guide to a Secular Jewish Tashlikh: Take your family/household/intimate community to a flowing body of water. Stand on the shore in small circles of people. Each person in the circle praises each person in the circle (“I love how you . . .”) out loud, with everyone else listening. Then each person in the circle offers a constructive suggestion (“I hope that you . . .”) for the new year, with everyone else listening. When all of the speaking is done, everyone throws breadcrumbs into the water while shouting out their resolutions for the year to come.