Yesterday was the first day of the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah. It is considered a high holiday, during which G-d weighs all of your good and bad deeds, and marks the creation of the world.
The JASA Starrett Senior Center combined the celebration of Rosh Hashanah with its quarterly birthday party on Tuesday. The sacred occasion was observed with music, dancing and food. Members joyously hugged one another and expressed well wishes by exchanging “L’Shanah tovah u’metuka,” which means have a good and sweet New Year.
The Spring Creek Sun asked JASA members what the holiday means to them and how do they celebrate it?
“It is a very special day for me and all Jews because it is a start of a new beginning,” Zinaida Tsirlina said. The 75-year-old retired book keeper, who lives alone, observes the two-day holiday by preparing fresh salmon head, salad and sweet fruits. The head of the fish represents the start of a new year, while sweet fruits signify future blessings, Tsirlina said. As a child, she fondly recalled, the celebration as a grand occasion for the family. The dinner table was filled with plates that had lots of traditional Jewish foods … like her favorite, fresh baked challah bread dipped in honey.
“It is a time of reflection and prayer,” says Izhemne Khzilove, 51, who cooks an extravagant and traditional Rosh Hashanah meal for her mother and family members. Eating pomegranate is one of the religious holiday’s rituals. Khzilove eats the fruit because it is in keeping with the 613 commandments in the Torah. And by eating its seeds, she prays to perform many good deeds during the coming year. After dinner, her nephew blows the Shofar, a ram’s horn, to announce and welcome the New Year.
“For me Rosh Hashanah is the hope for a year of good life, health and prosperity,” says Anjelika Sulayananov, JASA’s Group Case Worker. One tradition she participates in is going to a lake or pond and tossing in pieces of bread for the fish. Each piece represents the casting off of one’s sins into the depths of the sea. Practicing Jewish residents of Spring Creek Towers go to the Canarsie Pier to carry out the ritual, said Sulayananov, who believes, “What is most important about this holiday is rejoicing G-d and having a wonderful New Year.”
By Amanda Moses