High Holy Days

Why Rosh Hashanah is the world's birthday

By Rabbi David Lister, September 17, 2009

On Rosh Hashanah, the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, we celebrate God’s reign over us and His creation. But the great Chasidic leader Rabbi Nachman of Breslav suggests that this event is as much a handover as a coronation. Just as God created the universe with divine utterances, so He would have us recreate ourselves and our worldview during the Aseret Yemey Teshuvah, the Ten Days of Repentance, that begin on Rosh Hashanah and culminate with Yom Kippur.


Getting our spiritual fix

By Alex Kasriel, September 17, 2009

If the thought of sitting in synagogue for hours on end this New Year leaves you cold, take inspiration from others who are searching for a spiritual experience in the days ahead.

Some are finding ways to connect with the synagogue service, while others are abandoning the traditional place of worship altogether to pray in alternative groups.

Indeed, many Jews in this country are looking for more than just an excuse to get together with the family and indulge in honey cake over the chagim.


Why Yom Kippur is a personal challenge

October 3, 2008

We asked five rabbis to recall from experience what the central concept of teshuvah - repentance or return - means to them 

Marcia Plumb


The Power of Teshuvah

September 29, 2008

In an extract from his new book, Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer looks at the key High Holy Day theme of repentance.

The idea of a divine soul is central to the Jewish understanding of man, not only in the sense just described but also because it means that, at his core, man is pure and good. The body is temporary, as is the animal soul; the godly soul is eternal and, in that sense, the essence of who we really are.


Your short guide to High Holy-Day terminology

By Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, September 24, 2008


"Man whose foundation is dust" (Musaf Amidah); the human being, composed of frailty and wonder; made of earth, yet in the image of God. We are susceptible to loneliness and fear, vulnerable to accidents, illness and violence. People we adore are torn from our lives; we realise that we too must die. So what is our existence worth? Yet our heart knows love and our soul recognises God. When compassion floods our being, when we feel joy and register beauty, when all our being sings, how marvellous it is to be human, what a privilege to be alive.


The rabbi who’s in the honey

By Simon Rocker, September 24, 2008

It is probably just as well that Rosh Hashanah takes place now rather in a couple of months' time. According to recent reports, stocks of British honey could run out before the end of the year.


A prayer you can eat

By Rabbi David Lister, September 24, 2008

Sir James Frazer, one of the founding fathers of modern anthropology, scrutinised the practice of sympathetic magic in his monumental work, The Golden Bough. His book documented in detail how primitive peoples believed that by performing symbolic acts, they could somehow influence events to obtain the outcome depicted by the symbolism.