These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

The New Year in Israel

Posted on September 4, 2013 by Jessica Baverman

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From my blog:

Jessica BavermanLast year, I spent Rosh Hashanah in Ra’anana with a family I hadn’t known more than a month before the holiday. I didn’t prepare much, and I was getting used to being in Israel. This year, I am surrounded by a new set of friends, an amazing partner, and a lot more knowledge about myself, Judaism, and Israel. I cannot be more lucky.

Each year for the last few years, I have taken advantage of a website called 10Q, which provides 10 questions, one each day, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, in order to push you to think more deeply about the year that just happened and the year coming up. Last year, my answers focused on leaving St. Louis, coming to Israel, and beginning an intense journey of self-growth. I am still on that journey, and though I have learned so much about Judaism and Israel in the last year, I have much more to learn. With each year, I become more and more myself, and I experience and learn many new things.

This week, we have been learning about Rosh Hashanah in many of our classes. During one of the Rosh Hashanah holiday learning sessions, we went through 13 questions to help us prepare for the holiday by reflecting on the last year and thinking about the next year. In another class, we talked about the laws concerning a holiday, whether we can cook or shower, etc., and also the laws concerning the blowing of the shofar. In my Social Justice class, we discussed whether humans are the epitome of creation. Rosh Hashanah is supposedly the anniversary of when humans came into being. Reading Genesis 1 & 2, the two creation stories are slightly different. Are humans the epitome of creation or is Shabbat? In other words, was the world made for us to conquer and rule, which aligns with how humans are discussed in the first chapter, or are we here to “till and tend” the world, to work it and guard it, to serve it and preserve it? The meanings of the words used in the text can be translated and interpreted in many different ways. My worldview goes along with the second chapter. We are here to use the earth, but not conquer it. This is what holidays and Shabbat are all about for me. Six days of the week, I use the world in the way I need it to work for me. On Shabbat, I am a slave to the way the world works.

During the next three days, two of which are a holiday and one Shabbat, I hope to reflect upon the last year. I want to do some spiritual learning and of course spend the time enjoying being here in Israel with friends and my partner. I wish you all a happy and healthy new year!