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The Jewish High Holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur 2010

(Newcomers to this blog may want to read the Overview first, here.)

The Jewish High Holiday season for 2010 begins at sundown September 8th. On the Jewish calendar, 2010 is actually the year 5771, signifying that Jewish history goes back that far—5,771 years.

September 8th will be the eve of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah (pronounced rush ha-sha-na). The beautiful blowing of the shofar, a trumpet-like musical instrument made from a ram's horn, will usher in the holidays at Jewish synagogues and celebrations throughout the world.

Rosh Hashanah is also known as “Yom Teruah,” The Feast of Trumpets. The command to observe a Jewish New Year came down to the Israelites through Moses from God, and can be found in Leviticus 23:23: The LORD said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites: 'On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts’.”

The Jewish Day of Atonement—Yom Kippur (pronounced yome ki-poor')—follows Rosh Hashanah ten days later. This year, it will be from sundown on September 18th to sundown the next day. Yom Kippur is a serious observance, not to be taken lightly.

On Yom Kippur, every Jewish person who is “of age” (thirteen and over) is required to fast from food and drink (except for water), and stop work of any kind for the twenty-four hour period. Many Jewish people spend part of this day at a synagogue praying for God's forgiveness of sins, and approach people whose forgiveness they seek.

God's original command for Yom Kippur can be found in Leviticus 16:29-30: "This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny yourselves and not do any work…because on this day atonement will be made for you to cleanse you. Then, before the Lord you will be clean from all your sins….” (excerpts, NIV).

The ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are called the “Ten Days of Awe.” Within this period, Orthodox Jews will recite the “slichot,” prayers of repentance.

How should Christians recognize Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur?

Although Christians and “Jewish believers in Jesus” believe that Jesus Christ was the ultimate sacrifice for all sins (Romans 6:10), we can still commemorate the Jewish Day of Atonement as a reminder to be truly repentant. All people who believe in God need confession and repentance. It will also be a good testimony to our Jewish friends that we respect and know about their day.

Now, tell your Jewish friends "Shanah Tovah" -- have a great Jewish New Year!

(This is a copyrighted excerpt from the book What Every Christian Should Know About the Jewish People. (c. 2008 wine Press Pleasant Word Publishing). All rights reserved. The book is no longer available, but please enjoy the other posts on this website.

Photo: Shofar being blown in Prague, 2009. Donated to Public Domain by Martin Kozak at Wikimedia Commons.