Rosh Hashana Archives - Amazing Journeys
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Posts Tagged ‘Rosh Hashana’


Yom Kippur; More Than A Day Off

Monday, September 24th, 2012

As we delve into the pinnacle of Jewish observance with the Day of Atonement soon upon us, for some it is a day of conflict even before it envelopes us with its true meaning. 

Yom Kippur falls on a Wednesday this year. Midweek.  For those who work in Jewish communal work or with Jewish clientele like Amazing Journeys, taking the day off to pray is a non-issue.  For many, however, the necessity of taking a day off can be lost due to the responsibilities of work, the pressures of school, or the non-compliance of a boss or administration recognizing the significance that this day is to our heritage.

Interestingly, the contrast between how society treats Christmas, for example, and how it treats the Jewish High Holy Days is apparent to some. Jewish law requires a halt to work on Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana, which are not legal days off. Religious strictures on working are generally looser for Christians on Christmas. Yet Christmas is a legal holiday.

Under federal law, employers in businesses of more than 15 workers must ”reasonably accommodate” religious needs unless they can demonstrate ”undue hardship.” A religious need includes taking a holiday off. An accommodation can include allowing a holiday swap.

This doesn’t mean that other veins comply with the need.  The sporting world, for example doesn’t pause their schedule.

Hall of Famer baseball players Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax, both Jewish, were faced with the dilemmas of playing important games during the high holidays. Greenberg was quoted:  “The team was fighting for first place, and I was probably the only batter in the lineup who was not in a slump. But in the Jewish religion, it is traditional that one observe the holiday solemnly, with prayer. One should not engage in work or play. And I wasn’t sure what to do.” –

In 1934, Hank Greenberg of the Detroit Tigers decided not to play in a game during a tight pennant race because it fell on Yom Kippur. In 1965, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax missed a World Series game in observance of Yom Kippur.

In some industries, it can be a simple matter of tit for tat.  For many Jews, working on Christmas is payback to gentile colleagues who fill in on Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana. Other Jews view working on Christmas as a way to fulfill tenets of the faith. Many Jews speak of working on Christmas as obeying an unwritten rule, or upholding a social contract… or just being a mensch.

The topic is often not discussed but is rather part of the social grease that keeps society working smoothly. The practice tends to keep everyone happy and adds an underscore the words ”happy holidays.”

On Yom Kippur, may you, your family, Israel and its people be sealed in the Book of Life for a year of life and peace.

In The Spirit Of The Holiday Season

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

The Torah explains that Jews have 613 mitzvot by which we should base our good-deeds lives upon. There are mitzvot about foods, holidays and prayers, kindness and cleanliness, honesty, how to treat other people and lots more.

Some of the mitzvahs we should try do are:

  • Honor your mother and father
  • Give Charity
  • Learn
  • Pray
  • Visit the sick or elderly
  • Care for animals

This past weekend in the heart of New York City and just a few days prior to our Days of Awe, an amazing journey of another kind took place thanks to the kindness, generosity and mitzvah of three siblings.  Bruce and Steven Stark and Ellen Gabe, owners of Beacon Paint & Hardware ( hosted their 12th annual Guiding Eyes for the Blind fundraiser; an organization that raises and trains seeing-eye dogs.

After Shabbat on Sept 24th, over 300 supporters gathered in a school yard adjacent to the Museum of National History for music, food, puppy playtime, socializing and a presentation full of accolades to those who helped make the event possible.  The food, lighting, staging and even t-shirts were all donated for this worthy cause and by the end of the night over $15,000 was raised for this wonderful cause.

I traveled up from Pittsburgh to take part of this meaningful event. I returned home after the weekend touched and honored to have been invited to take part.  This was not an event about loving animals, although those who love dogs were certainly overjoyed. This was an event about helping people in need.  It takes tens of thousands of dollars to raise, train and support a service dog and their meanings to the lives of needy people cannot be understated.  Bruce, Steven and Ellen know that premise all too well as they had a sister who suffered blindness and greatly benefitted from her beloved service pup.

In the spirit of Rosh Hashana and the most powerful, meaningful time of year for us Jews….cheers to Bruce, Steven and Ellen for all their mitzvahs during this amazing journey of a different kind!  And yes, Amazing Journeys passengers were grand supporters as well. Over 40 local (and a couple out of towners) came to the event – and dozens more sent in donations. 

Shana Tova to one and all. May this year be amazing; full of love, good health, prosperity, great friends and lots of togetherness.