Rosh HaShanah this year starts on September 15th and ends on September 17th. This holiday is commonly known as the “Jewish New Year.” As there are many aspects of this holiday that are a little unclear to some of us, let’s have a DMC (deep meaningful conversation) about it. Let’s start from the head down: first the fish head. Why do we eat a fish head on rosh hashanah? Well, most of us learn that this odd tradition is because Rosh HaShanah is the head of the year. While this is true it is quite basic, the head of the fish literally represents bringing to life. So starting off the year with a fish head is a way of hoping for a long and healthy life. Along with this tradition, another one we all know is apples and honey. We eat apples and honey to represent a sweet new year. But have you ever wondered why we eat apples and not anything else? Well as we know apples are delicious, but shockingly this is not the reason. We eat apples on this holiday for the very practical reason as they are in season this time of year. I bet that’s not what you were expecting.
These two basic Rosh HaShanah traditions both have the similar themes, they are both wishing us a sweet and healthy new year full of love and joy. But an additional theme of this holiday is a fresh start full of new beginnings. As it is a new year, it is the time to strive and try to learn new things Jewishly. This new year I challenge all of USY to find what their favorite aspect of being jewish is, and share it with your community. Conservative Judaism is about learning more and growing. As the future of the movement, it is our job to make sure that it continues growing and adapting. This means that we also have to grow as jews. Shana Tova Umetuka USY!
Penina Berger, International Religious education Vice President 2023-2024