The Days of Awe: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the Days In Between

Rosh Hashanah

  • Teshuvah — Return: spiritual realignment. You remember who you really are and strive to return your innermost self through repentance, prayer, and charity.
  • Tefillah — connecting through prayer. The shofar, a ram’s horn, is blown 100 times. Hearing the shofar is a mitzvah (commandment) and is meant to awaken you — literally jar you awake so you know the period of judgment has begun. Part of connecting through prayer is the Tashlich prayer ceremony, where breadcrumbs are tossed into flowing water to symbolically cast away old habits and mistakes.
  • Tzedakah — Bring justice in the world through community involvement. You do this by taking a stand on important issues and giving charity either financially or with your time.

Days of Awe

Yom Kippur

  • Kol Nidre: this is a public apology for falling short, admitting we are not perfect and a beautiful, strikingly moving song. It is haunting, beautiful, try listening here:
  • Vidui: this includes is an alphabetical list of all of humankind’s sins or transgressions (Ashamnu) and we ask for forgiveness from God as a community. The list is archaic, let’s face it, the Torah was written a long time ago, so some make modern-day additions to the list.
  • Yizkor (May God Remember): a public memorial service honoring the dead.



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Kara Rubinstein Deyerin

Kara Rubinstein Deyerin

I was raised half black but had a DNA surprise. I’m an NPE (not parent expected), Jewish, mom, wife, writer, cook, knitter, and connoisseur of all things human.