As you surely know, Rosh Hashanah starts tonight. But in fact, the new moon was actually last night and today is the first day of the lunar month so it should already be Rosh Hashanah. But almost 2000 years ago, the Sages who created our current calendar decreed that Rosh Hashanah cannot fall on Friday, Sunday, or Wednesday. If Rosh Hashanah fell on Wednesday or Friday, then Yom Kippur would fall on Friday or Sunday. Since both Yom Kippur and the Sabbath, which occurs every Saturday, are days when virtually all work is forbidden, it would be very inconvenient to have them on consecutive days. However, it is all right for Yom Kippur and the Sabbath to coincide, as then they are only one day.If Rosh Hashanah fell on a Sunday, then Hoshana Rabbah would fall on Shabbat, when the ritual of circling the bimah with palm branches seven times could not be observed. So if Rosh Hashanah falls on any of those days, it is pushed back by a day.
A lunar year has 354 days but certain holidays are tied to certain seasons so the calendar has to be adjusted to keep Pesach in the Spring and Sukkot in the Fall. Seven out of 19 years are leap years which add an additional month -- so generally a leap year falls once in three years. But sometimes it falls once in two years and this year is such a year. So Purim and Pesach this year will be near to their latest possible dates on the Gregorian calendar. Next year Rosh Hashanah will start on the night of October 2 and Chanukah 2024 will extend into January 2025.
Earlier this week I sent out a link to an anonymous survey that is intended to help me with one of my Yom Kippur sermons. It asks two questions: What is the purpose of Kehilat Shalom? What is the purpose of Judaism? I’m delighted that I have already received quite a few responses but I would love to receive some more. The link to the survey is here: https://forms.gle/JJmwXYjkhHzXhHZx8
A reminder for those who will be participating in whole or in part on Zoom: please pay attention to whether or not your microphone is muted. We will have a number of people who will be doing readings over Zoom so it is not practical for us to keep everybody force muted. Particularly if you are on Zoom with other people in the same household, if you are unmuted and chatting with someone else in the house, it is disruptive to everyone else so please pay attention and be cooperative.
This will be the fourth year that our services will be available on Zoom -- three years ago at the height of the pandemic we were on Zoom only, and this will be the third year where are services are available in person or on Zoom. Because of that, we are assuming that those of you who will be on Zoom have a copy of the Mahzor for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (a gray volume edited by Rabbi Jules Harlow and published by the Rabbinical Assembly). We distributed them extensively over the prior three years and did not request they be returned, but if you do not have one, please obtain one from the synagogue office by Friday morning.
On the second day of Rosh Hashanah, as I have done for many years, I will be doing a text study rather than a formal sermon. The text will be distributed to those in person but for those on Zoom it is available at:
Because the first day of Rosh Hashanah coincides with Shabbat -- which is a fairly rare occurrence, there are some changes to our practice and our schedule. The Shofar is not blown on Shabbat and Avinu Malkeinu is also not recited. Tashlich also does not take place on Shabbat so it will be on the second day, this coming Sunday. As we have done for a few years, instead of schlepping back to the shul building for afternoon service and evening minyan, these will take place right after tashlich at North Creek Lake.
I will not be holding Drop-In Hours tomorrow. If you need to reach me please email me at email@example.com or phone me at 301-977-0768.
Rabbi Charles L. Arian