If you're Jewish like me (more cultural than religious), or are a non-Jew who wonders why your Jewish coworkers disappear on various September days, today's post turns to technology for enlightenment.
iPhone users can download a $0.99 App titled, "Jewish Days." This application can help you remember when the Jewish holidays occur and what each one means.
Here's their quickie explanation of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipper, which are commonly referred to as the High Holidays or the Jewish New Year.
Rosh Hashanah, which begins the evening of Sept. 8, is the start of the civil year in the Hebrew calendar. It is a new year for people, animals, and legal contracts and it commemorates the creation of man.
Yom Kippur, which begins the evening of Sept. 17, is also known as the Day of Atonement. According to the Jewish Days app, it is the most solemn and important of the Jewish holidays. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.
For many children, the most beloved portion of the synagogue service during the High Holidays is the blowing of the Shofar, a ram's horn. An iPhone App, also priced at $0.99, called "Shofar Hero" contains the four kinds of ritual blasts. FYI: The blowing of the Shofar is the only specific commandment for Rosh Hashanah. Just as trumpeters announced the presence of their mortal king, the Shofar is used by Jews to proclaim the coronation of the King of Kings.
Another $0.99 App, called "Synagogues Finder" uses your current location to identify houses of worship nearest your home. So if you haven't gotten a seat lined up for the High Holidays, check out this helpful listing.
Not to worry if you're sans iPhone. You can turn to the Internet for even more information about the High Holidays. Holidays.net outlines "entertainment and some fun Holiday things for you and your family." The site includes stories of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a Shofar to blow, some holiday recipes, and even pictures for the kids to print and color.
JewishFaq provides instructions (when to light the candles and when to drink the wine, for instance) and prayers for the holidays. The website includes both the Hebrew and English wording for each prayer.
MyJewishLearning is a great site for All Things Jewish. Here, you can explore more about the High Holidays and read an article written by Rabbi Shimon Apisdor, called "Making Synagogue Meaningful Or, How to survive High Holiday services."
I hope all of the above clears up some of the mystery about the High Holidays. But, if you're still fuzzy, and want a deeper investigation, you could point your mouse to amazon.com where you'll find a thorough listing of Jewish books.
And while you're on that site, don't forget to check out "The Division Street Princess," a sweet memoir about growing up in Jewish Chicago during the 1940's.
You didn't think you'd get away without a commercial, did you?