Wednesday, September 9

Rosh Hashana + The Secret Shofar of Barcelona

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish new year, a fall holiday that calls for both rejoicing and serious introspection. According to Jewish tradition, Rosh Hashanah is the birthday of the world and also the time of divine judgment...
“On Rosh Hashanah all human beings pass before Him as troops, as it is said, ‘the Lord looks down from heaven, He sees all mankind. From His dwelling place He gazes on all the inhabitants of the earth, He who fashions the hearts of them all, who discerns all their doings.'” – Rabbi Dr. Reuven Hammer
The new year is a joyous time filled with family, friends, and food, but it is also an opportunity to reflect on your actions of the past year, and to consider ways to improve in the next.  Tashlich, which literally translates to “casting off,” is a ceremony performed on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah.  During this ceremony, Jews symbolically cast off the sins of the previous year by tossing bread crumbs into flowing water.  People think of things they’ve done wrong in the past year and then “throw them away,” promising for improvement in the coming year.

Services are held in synagogues, and in the midst of the liturgy there are blasts from a ram’s horn, the shofar.  The call of the shofar sounds like a person or an animal wailing, and serves to remind Jews to call out to the Divine and change their lives for the better.  Many people gather for large family meals on Rosh Hashanah. The challah and apples are dipped in honey, representing hopes for a sweet new year.  Honey cake and apple cake are common desserts at the end of this festive meal. 

Rosh Hashanah 2021 begins at sundown on September 6, and ends at sundown on September 8.
Be sure to wish your family and friends, "L’shana tova," a happy and sweet new year!

For this unit, we are using The Secret Shofar of Barcelona as our spine read.

Access the complete unit study in the Jewish Holidays in Literature Bundle!

Each of the ten unit studies in this year-long bundle centers around a book for middle school level and includes videos, cooking projects, hands-on activities, writing assignments, and more.  There are also resources for younger children in eight of the ten units (not in *).

  • Introduction to Judaism
  • Solomon and the Trees + Tu B’Shevat unit
  • The Queen of Persia + Purim unit study (sample)
  • Devil’s Arithmetic + Passover unit study
  • The Secret Shofar of Barcelona + Rosh Hashana unit study
  • The Yom Kippur Shortstop + Yom Kippur unit study
  • The Mysterious Guests + Sukkot unit study
  • All-of-a-Kind Family Hannukah + Chanukah unit study
  • Broken Strings + Fiddler on the Roof + Persecution unit study*
  • The Golem & the Jinni + Kabbalah unit*

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