“The Jewish New Year Festival – A Guide for the Rest of Us”

Why does the Jewish new year start in the seventh month of the Jewish calendar?

The Jewish New Year Festival

Why the Jewish new year holidays — Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot — don’t occur in the first month of the biblical calendar is one of many historical and folk traditions explored in a booklet directed to secular or “cultural” Jews: “The Jewish New Year Festival-A Guide for the Rest of Us.”

Published by the secular Sholem Community of Los Angeles, the booklet also includes suggestions for observing the holidays outside traditional synagogue services and prayers. Some 48 percent of U.S. Jews neither attend High Holiday services nor fast on Yom Kippur, notes the author, Hershl Hartman, the Sholem Community’s vegvayzer, or Secular Humanist Leader.

The booklet traces the development of the holidays from their origins among primitive hunter-gatherers and herding tribes through ancient Jewish agricultural society and in customs that exist among many ancient cultures. It explains the traditions that developed over three millennia and suggests ways for “the rest of us to develop meaningful, inspired celebrations that do not require a suspension of our innermost beliefs while still permitting us to join with our fellow-Jews in observing” the holidays.

“The Jewish New Year Festival-A Guide for the Rest of Us” is available for $5.00 from the Sholem Community. PayPal link coming soon