Culture

Rosh Hashanah 5773

The Jewish New Year explained:

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is celebrated in 2012 from sundown on Sept. 16 to nightfall on Sept. 18. The Hebrew date for Rosh Hashanah is 1 Tishrei 5773.

Though Rosh Hashanah literally means “head of the year,” the holiday actually takes place on the first two days of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, which is the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar. This is because Rosh Hashanah, one of four new years in the Jewish year, is considered the new year of people, animals and legal contracts. In the Jewish oral tradition, Rosh Hashanah marks the completion of the creation of the world.

Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days, or Yamim Noraim (the “Days of Awe“), and is followed 10 days later by Yom Kippur, the “day of atonement.” The Mishnah refers to Rosh Hashanah as the “day of judgment,” and it is believed that God opens the Book of Life on this day and begins to decide who shall live and who shall die. The days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are viewed as an opportunity for Jews to repent (teshuvah, in Hebrew) and ensure a good fate.

Jews traditionally gather in synagogues on Rosh Hashanah for extended services that follow the liturgy of a special prayerbook, called a mahzor, that is used during the Days of Awe. At specific times throughout the service, a shofar, or ram’s horn, is blown. The mitzvah (commandment) to hear the shofar, a literal and spiritual wake-up call, is special to this time of year.

The new year is the only Jewish holiday that is observed for two days by all Jews (other holidays are observed for just one day within the Land of Israel) as it is also the only major holiday that falls on a new moon.

A common greeting on Rosh Hashanah is shana tovah u’metukah, Hebrew for “a good and sweet new year.” Many traditional Rosh Hashanah foods — apples and honey, raisin challah, honey cake and pomegranate — are eaten, in part, for this reason.

L’shanah tovah to all our Jewish friends.

 

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Culture

Where Have All the Leaders Gone?

So asks Charles Coulombe:

… When I was a boy, the world was filled with leaders—reigning or recently  retired—who epitomized their countries. De  Gaulle, Churchill, Adenauer, De  Gasperi, Chiang  Kai-shek, Franco, Salazar, De Valera, Pinochet, Sato, Perón, Menzies, Diefenbaker, and even the UN’s Hammarskjöld.  Whether in office through the ballot box or a coup, these lads guided their  lands through perilous times. In my time, the closest we came on a national  level was Ronald Reagan, a giant  among the pygmies of late-20th-century presidents. All these leaders were able  and memorable.

There are several reasons why neither ballot boxes nor military coups create  such folk today…

Do take the time to read the whole piece here.

 

Culture

Armada of British/US Naval Forces Mass in the Gulf as Israel Prepares for War with Iran

An armada of US and British naval power is massing in the Persian Gulf in the belief that Israel is considering a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s covert nuclear weapons programme.

Battleships, aircraft carriers, minesweepers and submarines from 25 nations are converging on the strategically important Strait of Hormuz in an unprecedented show of force as Israel and Iran move towards the brink of war.

Western leaders are convinced that Iran will retaliate to any attack by attempting to mine or blockade the shipping lane through which passes around 18 million barrels of oil every day, approximately 35 per cent of the world’s petroleum traded by sea.

A blockade would have a catastrophic effect on the fragile economies of Britain, Europe the United States and Japan, all of which rely heavily on oil and gas supplies from the Gulf…

Read on in The Telegraph.

… just last week Mr Netanyahu signalled that time for a negotiated settlement was running out when he said: “The world tells Israel ‘Wait, there’s still time.’ And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’

“Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”