This week I had the privilege of attending a Rosh Hashanah dinner. I did not know what to expect because this was my first time attending not only a Rosh Hashanah dinner but also a major Jewish holiday dinner. The journey to the host’s house took me and my fellow students deep within an orthodox Jewish community and the streets were filled with families of orthodox Jews walking in the middle of the roads. At first it was a bit intimidating; however, our poor navigation skills forced us to ask dozens of people for directions. The people we encountered were exceptionally friendly and went well out of their way to help us find our way to dinner. When we arrived, we were seated at the table by gender and were crammed into a small room with some forty people. The meal itself was fantastic, and each course was accompanied by a blessing and a prayer, each with their own significance.
Rosh Hashanah — the Jewish new year — is so different from North American new year because the former is filled with prayers and actions that hope to encourage a sweet New Year as oppose to a drunken frenzy like the latter. Furthermore, the Rabbi retold the story of Abraham and Sarah and their struggles with infertility but when Abraham prayed for the Philistine King Abimelech, he was blessed and he bore a child at the old age of ninety-nine. In a world where selfishness is not only accepted but also encouraged, the Rabbi’s choice for the new year was well chosen — to start the new year not thinking only for yourself but someone else who is just as in need.