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Seder Rosh Hashannah & Expanding Jewish Traditions

By Batya Medad
9/11/2009, 12:00 AM

There's more to read on Shiloh Musings and me-ander.  Shabbat Shalom u'Mevorach!

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... "...to 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 Rosh 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!