A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about jewish

The Jewish Ten Days of Awe in Israel

The ten days of awe are the Jewish High Holy days starting with Rosh Hashana and ending with Yom Kippur. The followers of Judaism throughout the world commemorate more than three thousand years of faith, custom, and history.

There are many similarities in the observance of this period worldwide but some significant differences in the Jewish homeland of Israel. The most important difference is that Israel is both the spiritual and secular homeland to millions of Jews who reside in the Land of Canaan. Many Jews and non- Jews alike view Israel as both a spiritual, political, and historical marvel. It is a very small nation but the center of great controversy and attention.

Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and a center of controversy!

This is a time for serious introspection, a time to consider the sins of the previous year and repent before Yom Kippur or the day of repentance. We have just completed this period in Haifa and throughout the world.

One of the ongoing themes of the Days of Awe is the concept that G-d has "books" that he writes our names in, writing down who will live and who will die, who will have a good life and who will have a bad life, for the next year. These books are inscribed on Rosh HaShanah, but our actions during the Days of Awe can alter G-d's decree. These "books" are sealed on Yom Kippur. This concept of writing in books is the source of the common greeting during this time is "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year" or G'mar Chatima Tova-- in Hebrew. I enjoy and am thrilled to wander around the beautiful city of Haifa during this period. Friends, neighbors, and yes even strangers greet each other with a warm G'mar Chatima Tova. Among the customs of this time, it is common to seek reconciliation with people you may have wronged during the course of the year. The Talmud maintains that Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and G-d. To atone for sins against another person, you must first seek reconciliation with that person; righting the wrongs you committed against them, if possible.

Work is permitted as usual during the intermediate Days of Awe with the exception for the Sabbath during that week. Hebrew is the language of Israel and the ancient Hebrew calendar is still used in both religious observances and often in daily secular life. Therefore the people of Israel celebrate the days of awe in the language of the Jewish Torah and follow the calendar used in the days of the ancient temples in Jerusalem.

The ten days of awe begin with the Jewish New Year - Rosh Hashana. This is the day that celebrates the beginning of the world according to Judaism. It is the day of the birth of Adam and Eve. Rosh Hashana is both a day of celebration and also introspection. There are many joyful celebrations throughout the country that include the traditional dipping of apples into honey. This to commemorate the sweetness of life at what traditionally has been the time of the harvest. Special cookies and other foods are eaten at this time to enjoy the New Year. Rosh Hashanah is celebrated for two rather than one day due to confusion relating to the ancient calendar. It is not one hundred percent certain on which day the holiday was originally celebrated.

Yom Kippur is probably the most important holiday of the Jewish year. It is the last day of the days of awe. Many Jews who do not observe any other Jewish custom will refrain from work, fast, and attend synagogue services on this day. Yom Kippur occurs on the 10th day of Tishrei.

The name 'Yom Kippur' means 'Day of Atonement', and that pretty much explains what the holiday is. It is a day set aside to atone for the sins of the past year.

Yom Kippur is a complete Sabbath; no work can be performed on that day. It is well-known that you are supposed to refrain from eating and drinking (even water) on Yom Kippur. It is a complete fast beginning before sunset on the evening before Yom Kippur and ending after nightfall on the day of Yom Kippur. The State of Israel comes to a virtual halt with the exception of all the important prayers on this most holy day of the year. Businesses and most public services are closed. Traffic is limited mainly with the exception of medical and security services. People commute to prayer by foot and often visit family and close friends to share this special day. The streets are mainly empty with the exception of worshipers on their way to and from prayer or young kids running outside on the streets or playing in the local parks. The lack of traffic gives the kids the opportunity to ride their bicycles up and down the hilly roads of Haifa or throughout the country.

Children indeed enjoy riding their bicycles on Yom Kippur

Most people fast and spend much of the day in prayer. As always, any of these restrictions can be lifted wheredinga threat to life or health is involved. In fact, children under the age of thirteen and women in childbirth do not fast.

Older children and women from the third to the seventh day after childbirth are permitted to fast, but are permitted to break the fast if they feel the need to do so. People with illnesses may or may not fast according to their medical conditions.

Most of the holiday is spent in the synagogue. In Orthodox synagogues, services begin early in the morning and continue until just before sundown which ends the religious observances. The evening service that begins Yom Kippur is commonly known as Kol Nidre, named for the prayer that begins the service. "Kol nidre" means "all vows," and in this prayer, we ask G-d to annul all personal vows we may make in the next year. It refers only to vows between the person making them and G-d. The services end at nightfall, with the blowing of the tekiah gedolah, a long blast on the shofar continuing the tradition of three thousand year

Israel is a nation of individuals. You have the same wonderful qualities of human nature and all the short comings that you have anywhere. The ten days of awe give us the opportunity to make choices and accept responsibility for our choices in the place where it all started!

Posted by eshugerman 11:47 Tagged holidays jewish israel rosh jerusalem yom kippur hahanah shofar Comments (0)

Chelm Exists in Haifa:

Israeli Humor

The town of Chełm decided to build a new synagogue. So, some strong, able-bodied men were sent to a mountaintop to gather heavy stones for the foundation. The men put the stones on their shoulders and trudged down the mountain to the town below. When they arrived, the town constable yelled, "Foolish men! You should have rolled the stones down the mountain!" The men agreed this was an excellent idea. So they turned around, and with the stones still on their shoulders, trudged back up the mountain, and rolled the stones back down again.

Allow me to introduce myself. Earl Shugerman is my name. I am a proud immigrant to Israel of five years. I moved to Israel at age of fifty eight from Colorado. Why did I make this dramatic change in my life? There are many reasons. The most important is that I firmly believe that the return of the Jewish people to the land of our roots is destiny. It is a destiny with spiritual, religious, social, and political implications that have already proven to have historical implications. Haifa was my choice of city in this incredibly complicated and diverse nation.

Haifa (Hebrew: חֵיפָה‎‎, Hebrew pronunciation: [χeiˈfä], Ḥefa; Arabic: حيفا‎ Ḥayfā[2]) is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Haifa is a mixed city: 90% are Jews, more than a quarter of whom are immigrants from the former Soviet Union, while 10% are Arabs, predominantly of the Christian faith. It is also home to the Baha'i World Centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Built on the slopes of Mount Carmel, the history of settlement at the site spans more than 3,000 years. Over the centuries, the city has changed hands numerous times. It has been conquered and ruled by the Phoenicians, Persians, Hasmoneans, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans, British, and the Israelis. Since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the city has been governed by the Haifa Municipality. The weather is balmy although a bit cold at times in the winter. There are two major universities, a large and well known tech center and lots of parks and fun things to do. My famous place to hike is Park Carmel. Our region’s most famous resident was Elijah the Prophet. He reportedly lived his nomadic live in the Carmel Mountain Range.

I have enjoyed many blessings and faced many obstacles in adjusting to my new home. One of the greatest obstacles to overcome is to learn a new language especially at my age.

Israel offers newcomers the opportunity to study in an Ulpan. The Ulpan is a four hour a day program where new immigrants study Hebrew and receive some orientation to their new homeland. Private tutoring is available at a fee. I chose to both attend the Ulpan and receive private tutoring. My tutor Elinor Kimmel used the children’s stories about the citizens of Chelm as our study guide.

Almost every culture around the world has developed stories about fools in their midst. It’s a way of gently poking fun at themselves. In Jewish folklore we find a wonderful mythical town in Poland called Chelm located in Poland in the days of old. The residents are usually happy, gentle folk who also share another virtue – they are considered fools by everyone living outside of Chelm. But the Chelmites know they are the great sages of the world, the brightest of bright. Stories of the Chelmites have adorned Jewish humor and folklore for centuries.

…Two men of Chelm went out for a walk, when suddenly it began to rain. “Quick,” said one. “Open your umbrella.”It won’t help,” said his friend. “My umbrella is full of holes.”

“Then why did you bring it? “I didn’t think it would rain!”…

My favorite cafe in Haifa is the Ego Panorama. The owner is a long time resident of Haifa named Hannah. Hannah’s family came to Israel in 1948 from Poland. They were fortunate and thankful to have escaped the horrors of the Holocaust. I sat down yesterday to eat and study my beloved Chelm stories at The Ego. Hannah came over to me and began to giggle in a good natured way. “My family is from Chelm” she informed me with great glee. Chelm exists! It is a nice sized community in Poland of no particular distinction other than its contribution to the world of humor.

The greatest joy that I have derived from my immigration to Israel is learning about the great diversity of culture and history that this nation has to offer. I can visit the Sea of Galilee, Jerusalem. And Tel Aviv in the same day! Israel is a nation of Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Druze and other citizens. In many cases we manage to live together with a fair degree of harmony. Israel is a nation of immigrants from virtually every nation on earth. It is common to sit at The Ego and listen to fellow diner’s converse in several languages!

Posted by eshugerman 19:58 Tagged travel colorado panorama jewish israel humor dan haifa hebrew immigrant chelm Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 2 of 2) Page [1]