As many will know, millions of Jewish people around the globe recently celebrated two key festivals: Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Both are an opportunity for great reflection and quality time with the family, punctuated, as many Jewish holidays are, with copious amounts of delicious food.
Rosh Hashanah, also known as the Jewish New Year, marks one of Judaism’s holiest days. It is a two-day period, celebrated with family, synagogue services, reflection, symbolic foods, and the blowing of a symbolic ram’s horn – known as the shofar.
Yom Kippur falls after the New Year begins and marks the culmination of introspective 10-day period of repentance. It is traditionally observed with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services – followed by an epic ‘breaking of the fast’ meal.
For me, this time of year is really special and something I look forward to greatly – particularly as the pandemic put a pause on celebrating many of these important rituals with loved ones. Both festivals are an opportunity to switch off from the busyness of everyday life, to spend time surrounded by the people I love the most and uphold traditions that my ancestors have practiced for thousands and thousands of years.
I’ve come to think that, in many respects, the Jewish New Year is a form of self-care. It affords me the chance to look inwards, with little distraction to reflect on all things that have happened over the past year – both the triumphs and the challenges – and discover who I am and who I want to be. With the world currently feeling like quite a scary place sometimes, and so much outside of our control, it feels more important than ever to take the time to re-calibrate, to celebrate the small wins and grow from the challenges we have faced.
I hope that no matter where you live or what religion you practice (or not), you can take something from this and make time in your busy schedule for a bit of self-reflection and acceptance. Wishing my family, friends, and colleagues around the globe a happy and sweet New Year!