Friday, September 11, 2009

Seder Rosh Hashannah and Other Expanding Jewish Traditions

I grew up in a Jewish home of minimal Jewish traditions.  I discovered Torah Judaism when Modern Orthodoxy was beginning to shake off the "new immigrant" mentality where the priority was to fit into American society.  That was about forty-five years ago, and since then Jewish learning and delving into the Halachik (Jewish Law) literature has grown amazingly.

Just take the Rosh Hashannah meal for example. Honey with apple and challah were all that many Jews had to signify that "Yihi ratzon..."  It should be G-d's will that we have a sweet year.

Many families also had some sort of animal head on the table... " be a head not a tail."

Those two sufficed even in the religious homes a generation or two ago.  But now, like the "bragging" about how late one was up expounding Torah and "yitziat Mitzrayim," the Exodus from Egypt, at the the Passover Seder, now on Rosh Hashannah there's competition "l'shaim Shamayim," of course in the Name of G-d, for the number of foods and blessings, in many case no more than Hebrew puns, to bless the new year.

Another Jewish Holiday which has seen a boom, unexpected increase in the observance of a once minor aspect, is Shavuot.  Outside of Israel, Shavuot was a pretty-much unknown, ignored and forgotten holiday, except by those who were seriously religious.  So, unlike wine and matzah on Passover and honey on Rosha Hashannah there certainly weren't many Jews studying Torah all Shavuot night.

In recent years, the study of Jewish texts on Shavuot night can be found all over the world and not only in strictly Orthodox frameworks.  In Israel, there's an amazing variety of learning, lectures and discussion groups throught the night open to Jews of all observance, all stripes and styles.

Many Jews who don't fit the mold, don't wear the uniform are taking their Judaism very seriously.  Thank G-d.

No doubt Moshiach Ben David is on His Way!

Shannah Tovah, Gmar Chatimah Tovah!


Unknown said...

A head of lettuce, half of a raisin, and a stalk of celery.

Lettuce half a raisin celery

Let us have a raise in salary

Batya said...

Amen, I could live with that!!

josh said...

I haven't lived in 'America' for over ten years, but I sort of assume that with high holiday seating being less in demand there, more people are actually coming to pray as opposed to just to be seen, though that has a lot of merit as well if the other alternative is not to show up at all.

Make this a new year's resoltion:
Revival of Jewish music.
Used to be relegated to flutes and violins and other Hassidic shiny-shoe stuff, now a whole wave of new Jewish music is growing popularity. Davidi, Shweky, Rand, Tor, and more. Time to throw away the goyish stuff and rediscover our roots instead.

Batya said...

I have no idea about the High Holiday "ticket business" outside of Orthodox and other more traditional shuls. The only report I got was of my old Conservative OJC, Bayside, NY from someone who was there the year of 9-11, when the sermon was mourning the shrinking of what was once an enormous shul.

The growing traditions aren't what was popular when I was growing up.

Lady-Light said...

You are right. Don't forget the relatively newly-popular Tu b'Shevat Kabbalistic seder, which we do almost every year (last year we didn't. No kids, no heshek).
At our house we now do at least 2 sedarim: Pesach, and Rosh Hashana, and most years Tu b'Shevat.
And also, what about ushpizin? There was a time when Conservadox Jews did not do the ushpizin ceremony on Sukkot, but now some do.
And at Chabad (where we daven), there is no charge for seats for the chagim! The way it should be.

Batya said...

L-L, thanks for reminding me about Tu bShvat seder. I had planned on mentioning it.
It's strange at how the same time we're losing so many Jews to to intermarriage, apathy etc, there's such growth in Jewish life for those who are attracted to it.