Rabbi Kasriel Kastel tells of a Jewish family he knew in the Bronx years ago. They couldn’t afford to join a synagogue. So they didn’t go to High Holy Days services. Instead, on one day of Rosh HaShanah each year, they would go to a body of water and do Tashlich, the symbol casting away of sins. “Tashlich is free,” the rabbi says. The children “keep up the tradition.”
The New York Jets home season will start off poorly this year for some Jewish fans. And at least one of them insists that the Jets knew about a scheduling conflict with the Jewish calendar and did not take action until now.
Inside a Kew Gardens Hills spa that pampers its customers with manicures and facials, only a few women are having their nails done this morning. “Customers are not coming as often,” says the owner, a middle-aged woman with a Russian accent, declining to give her name. A year ago, she says, “there was always a waiting line.”
Houston — Just released from the hospital and too weak to attend High Holy Days services at her synagogue four years ago, Pearl Altman listened on the telephone. The congregation of Mrs. Altman, a retired teacher and investment banker, had made that arrangement for homebound members like her.
But the audio-only broadcast could not duplicate the in-shul experience, she says. Too much dead time, extended minutes of silence or of prayerbook pages rustling.
There must be a better way, said Mrs. Altman and her husband Sig.
This year they are providing the way.
It was a cast of thousands: of breadcrumbs.
On Monday, the day after Rosh HaShanah, a few hundred Jews came from Lower Manhattan to perform the ancient ritual of tashlich. The name means "thou shalt cast," referring to the small pieces of bread or objects that are shaken from one's pockets and thrown onto a body of water, symbolizing the discarding of one's sins.
This year the location was symbolic too: the Hudson River behind the Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, the site nearest to the destroyed World Trade Center.
Two days after Rosh HaShanah this year comes another Yom HaZikaron. The first anniversary of the attack on America occurs during the Jewish Days of Repentance (the Jewish New Year is traditionally referred to by its Hebrew name, the day of memorial) and the Jewish community will join all Americans in honoring the memory of the 3,000 victims of Sept. 11, 2001.
On the day before Rosh HaShanah last month, the newest synagogue in Far Rockaway was dedicated. Two members of the building committee of Agudath Israel of Bayswater affixed a mezuzah in a bronze case to the front door, Rabbi Menachem Feifer said some words of Torah, and nearly 200 members of the Jewish community sang and danced in joy.
The event culminated a three-year fund-raising campaign for the synagogue, whose members had been meeting for a decade in members' homes and rented space in the Queens neighborhood.
This week they have to start over.
Shabbat Shuvah, the Saturday between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, traditionally presents rabbis the opportunity to sermonize before a packed congregation about problems in the Jewish community.
This year Shabbat Shuvah presented some rabbis with a problem.
Should they encourage members of the Jewish community to attend a rally promoting economic and civil rights for immigrants in the United States, but which took place on Shabbat?
Note: The Ten Days of Repentance begin in the weeks and months beforehand, as members of the Jewish community prepare themselves spiritually for the period of introspection, and communal leaders focus on their individual responsibilities. In this week's issue and next week we focus, through the eyes of five individuals, on some of the most prominent features of the High Holy Days: shofar blowing, the tashlich ceremony, the sermon, prayer and repentance.
No one had pressed the emergency buzzer, but a nurse came rushing into the hospital room. She had a worried look on her face.