Guide for Israel’s Rosh Hashanah (New Year) 2017 / 5778 & More

1. Rosh Hashanah (“the beginning of the year” in Hebrew), the Jewish New Year, is celebrated on the first day of the Jewish month of Tishrei (תשרי).  Tishrei was a Babylonian term for launching the agricultural (creation) calendar, starting with the planting of seeds and the first rain.


2. Rosh Hashanah highlights the centrality of the soil in human life. The Hebrew word for soil/earth is Adamah ((אדמה, a metaphor of humility. It combines the Hebrew word for a human-being (אדמ, Adam) – which is also the name of the first human-being – and the Hebrew letter ה, which is an abbreviation of God, the Creator. The Hebrew word Adam (אדמ) contains the Hebrew word for blood (דמ), the liquid of life, and is the acronym of the Biblical Abraham (אברהם), David (דוד) and Moses (משה), three role models of humility.

3. Rosh Hashanah is announced, and celebrated – in a humble and determined manner – by the blowing of the Shofar (the ritual ram’s horn). The Hebrew spelling of Shofar, שופר, is a derivative of the verb שפר, which means to enhance, improve and succeed.

4. The shofar is the epitome of peace-through-strength.  It is made from the horn of a ram, which is a peaceful animal equipped with strong horns to fend off predators. The numerical value of the Hebrew word for “ram,” איל, is 41 (א-1, י-10, ל-30), which is equal to the value of “mother” (אם, א-1, ם-40), who strongly protects her children. Rosh Hashanah prayers highlight motherhood, optimism and the pregnancies of Sarah, Rachel and Chana, who gave birth to Isaac, Joseph, Benjamin and Samuel, respectively. Noah – who led the rebirth of humanity/world – also features in Rosh Hashanah prayers.

5. Rosh Hashanah and the blowing of the Shofar symbolize and commemorate:

*Alarming humanity of pending positive and negative significant developments (e.g., deliverance and attacks);
*The blows of the Shofar tumbled the walls of Jericho, and intensified Judge Gideon’s posture of deterrence during his war on the Midianites;
*An ancient expression of “In God we trust.” The reaffirmation of faith in God as the Creator, the supreme king (kings were anointed to the sound of the Shofar) and judge (a day of judgment);
*The bonding with God and fellow human beings;
*The creation of the first human-being, Adam, on the sixth day of the Creation;
*The annual judgment day, soul-searching and behavioral enhancement.
*The almost-sacrifice of Isaac – which was avoided by God’s angel and a ram (prohibiting further human sacrifices!) – and the Biblical (Abrahamic) Covenant;
*The three Jewish Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the Prophet Samuel (the latter inspired Thomas Paine, the author of “Common Sense,” the cement of the American Revolution), were conceived/born during the month of Tishrei, “the month of the strong ones ” (Kings A, 8:2);
*Blows of the Shofar – along with thunders and lightning – were heard when Moses (“the humblest of all human-beings”) received the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, a non-impressive, non-towering mountain;
*The Jubilee (Leviticus 25:10) was a role model of liberty for the American early Pilgrims and Founding Fathers. The Jubilee was announced during ancient time – every 50 years – by the blowing of the Shofar, ushering the deliverance from spiritual and physical slavery (release of slaves and land). It inspired the anti-slavery Abolitionist movement in the USA. Jubilee – “Yovel” (יובל) in Hebrew – is a synonym for Shofar (the ram’s horn);
*The ingathering (Aliyah) of Jews to the Jewish Homeland;
*Optimism in the face of adversity.
*The fallibility of all human-beings, starting with Adam and including Moses;

6. Rosh Hashanah was conceived by Jewish sages, during the Second Temple period, referring to the Biblical “day of blowing the shofar” and “the day of commemorating the blowing of the shofar” (Leviticus 23:23-25, Numbers 29:1-6). Commemoration is a central Jewish value – a prerequisite for national cohesion, survival, an enhanced future and refraining from past critical errors, while forgetfulness spells ignorance, loss of critical values and lessons, and therefore the repetition of past errors.

7. The Hebrew word “Rosh” means “beginning,” “first,” “head,” “chief.” The Hebrew letters of Rosh (ראש) constitute the root of the Hebrew word for Genesis, “Be’re’sheet” (בראשית), which is the first/lead word in the Bible. Just like the Creation, so should the New Year (and human actions) launch a thoughtful, long-term – not a hasty – process. Rosh Hashanah is celebrated at the beginning of the Jewish month of Tishrei, which means beginning/Genesis in ancient Acadian. The Hebrew spelling of Tishrei (תשרי) is also included in the spelling of Genesis (בראשית).

8. Rosh Hashanah is one of four Jewish New Years: (a) the anniversary of the Creation, the beginning of the Jewish civil calendar (5,778) and the seasons, the setting of the Sabbatical (7th) and Jubilee (50th) years and the time for calculating the annual tithe (10%) on vegetable and grains. (b) The first day of the month of Nissan initiates the three Jewish pilgrimages/festivals (Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles) and the measuring of the reign of ancient kings. (c) The first day of the month of Elul initiated the preparations for Rosh Hashanah and the New Year for animal tithes in ancient Israel. (d) The 15th day of the month of Shvat is the new year of the trees, which are role-models of humility, tenacity and growth for human-beings.

May the New Year, 5778, be top heavy on modesty, humility, challenge and gratification.

More on Rosh Hashanah and other Jewish holidays:

5778: A Year of Great Expectations

Indeed, in 5777 the IDF and Israeli security forces prevented PA Arab terrorists from committing as many deadly or serious attacks as they had the year before — unfortunately, the ones that succeeded were still horrific. And the radicalized Israeli-Arab terror, while still limited, became far more extreme, setting the country on fire, in some cases quite literally.

Just so no-one misunderstands the statement above, the majority of Israeli-Arabs are law-abiding and appreciate living in Israel as opposed to living in any Arab or Islamic country. A survey by IDI in May of this year found that 51.1% of Israeli-Arabs felt proud to be Israeli (compared to 86.1% of Jews).

Former US President Obama’s anti-Israel November Surprise at the UN wasn’t much of a surprise, but, in the end, his words had no effect in the real world.

His actions, on the other hand, Obama’s massive financial contribution to the radical Islamic Iranian regime, which then used that fortune to consolidate their terror network forged a tectonic shift across the Middle East.

I don’t know if we’ll be facing off in a full-scale war this year with Hezbollah and other Iranian proxies (or even Iran itself), but it appears we are headed in that direction. It will be a serious conflict on multiple fronts when it finally breaks out, this coming year or next.

I hope that the newly emerging reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas will go the way of all their previous reconciliations — I would be surprised and worried if it survives the inherently tribal nature of the Arabs of the Land of Israel. There is reason to suspect that Hamas is trying to adopt the Hezbollah model of government.

As predicted, BDS and other anti-Zionist NGOs spewed their venomous propaganda against Israel’s celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem from Jordanian occupation, and as predicted, no one paid attention.

Unexpectedly, MK Betzalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi/Ichud Leumi) introduced a real chance for progress towards resolving the Middle East conflict with his “One Hope” peace plan. If nothing else, it has opened up the tired, 50-year-old conversation to new ideas other than the “two-state solution.” The radical left was duly shocked and outraged.

Economically, Israel had some spectacular successes, and the country’s economy is doing well, despite Finance Minister Kachlon’s failed social engineering experiments in the real estate market.

My urgent concerns in 5778 are not for Israel, but for American Jewry.

Open anti-Semitism from the Left and the Right (talk about intersectionality) is on the rise in the US, and as the Lubavitcher Rebbe once said regarding a new Holocaust, “It can happen again overnight.”

Trump’s election (and equally, Hillary’s loss) has made the progressive/”liberal”/Reform Jewish community a little crazy, while the 2013 Pew study has forced them to face their denominational mortality.

With few exceptions, the Reform movement has avoided any real introspection as to why their ideas are failing — while their membership become less and less Jewish. Indeed, they no longer believe having a fast growing non-Jewish membership is a bad thing.

Instead, the Reform leadership has chosen to unite their dwindling community in a religious war against Israel and traditional Judaism, using Israel’s High Court as the battlefield where they attempt to force their failed and divisive ideologies and practices onto the Jewish State.

Israel has always struggled over issues of religion and the state, but the Reform and anti-Zionist NGO insurgency is helping to radicalize what most Israelis have been adept at working out — because we live here together and have no choice but to get along.

I am also concerned with the permanent damage Reform clergy are causing the traditional ties of their congregations with Israel, with their campaigns to grab more real estate at the Western Wall. Their decision to snub a sitting US President on the eve of Rosh Hashanah may also harm those same congregations. Their arrogance cannot but yield disaster and I can only hope they realize this and step back from the brink.

Here’s an uplifting note: more Jews have visited the Temple Mount in 5777 than in past years going back to 70 CE, and those numbers continue to grow. Israeli police have become more sensitive to the Jewish visitor than in the past (though far from perfect), and for one week this year we tasted how peaceful the Temple Mount could be without Muslim agitators on our holiest site.

As I write these words I’m thinking of the Israeli volunteers who recently flew to Houston to help after the hurricane, and the search and rescue team Prime Minister Netanyahu is sending right now to Mexico to assist after the earthquake. Our hearts are with the victims. It makes me proud to live in Israel, in a country that is able and willing to provide aid and assistance to those in need around the world.

Rosh Hashanah 2017: Everything you need to know about Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur

Jewish people across the world are marking New Year or Rosh Hashanah – the start of the holiest time in the Hebrew calendar.

It’s a time for family, friends and celebration – and also for personal reflection.

In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah literally translates to “the head of the year.”

The celebration lasts over two days and is signalled by the new moon. This means the date it falls on changes every year.

Rosh Hashanah 2017 begins at sundown on Wednesday September 20. This year marks the start of the 5778 on the Jewish calendar.

As night falls candles are lit in the home. The festival is marked by meals with family and friends and services at the synagogue.

Food is big part of the celebrations. Special customs are observed such as eating apples dipped in honey to symbolise a sweet new year. Honey cake and round challah bread is also eaten.

In the synagogue the shofar – the horn of a ram – is sounded as part of services which include readings from the Torah which is the Jewish religious text.

The first day marks the start of 10 days of repentance, where Jewish people reflect and repent for their sins of the previous year.

The tenth day is Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement and the holiest day of the year in Judaism.

Here’s everything you need to know about Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Credits: Lawrence Purcell© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Lawrence Purcell

Lawrence Purcell

What is Rosh Hashanah?

Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the High Holy Days. It starts on the first day of the Jewish month of Tishrei. Tishrei is the seventh month in the Jewish calendar.

Rosh Hashanah occurs 163 days after the first day of Passover.

It’s one of the holiest days in the faith and a massive occasion for families and communities to come together.

Credits: Lawrence Purcell© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Lawrence Purcell

Lawrence Purcell

What is actually being celebrated?

Mentioned in the Torah – in the book of Leviticus – as Yom Teruah, it’s translated as the Feast of Trumpets, or the Day of the Sounding of the Shofar.

It’s a traditional anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve and a “day of judgement”.

Jews believe God balances a person’s good deeds over the past 12 months against their wrongdoings, so the day marks a time of reflection and penitence. Worshippers ask God for forgiveness of their sins over the past year.

It’s also the start of the agricultural cycle of sowing, growth, and harvest.

Credits: By Deror_avi/Wikimedia Commons© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: By Deror_avi/Wikimedia Commons

By Deror_avi/Wikimedia Commons

How does the Jewish community mark Rosh Hashanah?

Customs include blowing the shofar – a hollowed-out ram’s horn – and eating symbolic foods such as apples dipped in honey to evoke a “sweet new year”.

Dates and pomegranates may also appear on dining tables.

For communities, feasts and synagogue services will be held.

Challah bread is also eaten in a round loaf to symbolise a circle of life and the new year.

Throughout the High Holidays, Jews recite Selichot , special prayers that ask forgiveness.

Credits: lawrence purcell© Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: lawrence purcell

lawrence purcell

What greeting do I give on Rosh Hashanah?

Common on Rosh Hashanah is the salutation “shanah tovah u’metukah”. It’s Hebrew for “a good and sweet new year”.

What is Yom Kippur?

On the 10th day of the Jewish month of Tishrei comes Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur means the ‘Day of Atonement’ and is the holiest day of the year.

To mark the ‘Sabbath of Sabbaths’, Jewish people fast for 25 hours and pray devoutly for most of the day, with five different sessions – Maariv, Shacharit, Musaf, Minchah and Neilah.

One of Israel’s Seven Spices Scientifically Found to Help Remedy Many Illnesses

Bible believers know that studying the Word of God is good for you. What might come as a surprise is that one particular food discussed in the Bible contains a wide array of hidden health benefits. This is becoming increasingly clear as scientists discover more and more positive health benefits from consuming extra-virgin olive oil.

Sorting Olives in the Galilee

“Olive oil is the only vegetable oil that can be taken as it is, just by cold pressing the pure oil out of the olive without heavy processing, heat or chemicals,” said Rabbi Shmuel Veffer to PNW. “This is one of the many miracles we glean from the olive, one of Israel’s seven holy species discussed in the Bible.”

Rabbi Veffer and Nili Abrahams are co-founders of Galilee Green, an Israeli company that produces premium boutique olive oil for worldwide distribution. Galilee Green is well aware of the unique health benefits of extra-virgin olive oil and has even included a “Wellness” section highlighting this important information on the company website.

“The Bible is replete with references to the importance of olive oil,” continued Rabbi Veffer. “Also, in ancient Egypt, olive oil was so valuable that it was used in the payment of wages.”

אֶ֤רֶץ חִטָּה֙ וּשְׂעֹרָ֔ה וְגֶ֥פֶן וּתְאֵנָ֖ה וְרִמּ֑וֹן אֶֽרֶץ־זֵ֥ית שֶׁ֖מֶן וּדְבָֽשׁ׃

“A land of wheat, barley, grapevines, fig trees, and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey”

(Deuteronomy 8:8).

To date, extra virgin olive oil has been scientifically found to aid in the prevention of obesity, heart diseasediabetesvarious cancers, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease and more. Studies of the benefits of olive oil have come out of some of the most respected scientific research in the world.

Modern-day interest in the health benefits of olive oil increased when it was discovered in the 1940s and 1950s that those who follow the Mediterranean diet decrease their risk of early death from cardiovascular disease by 9 percent. A 2014 follow-up study credited an elevated consumption of olive oil with reducing the risk of cardiovascular events and stroke.

The Mediterranean diet includes a proportionally high consumption of extra-virgin olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits, vegetables, fish, moderate amounts of dairy consisting mostly of cheese and yogurt, moderate consumption of wine and small amounts of meat.

“It may be counterintuitive to think that adding olive oil to your diet is good for your heart, but that is what science has found,” said Rabbi Veffer. “It is proven to be more effective for cardiovascular health than a low-fat diet and also helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure.”

Olive oil, considered a “good fat”, is also linked to a decreased risk of osteoporosis. A study from the Ain Shams University in Egypt found that the monounsaturated fat in olive oil helps the body break down calcium so it can be properly absorbed into bones.

In addition, some studies have found a decreased risk of Type 2 diabetes in those who consume extra-virgin olive oil. Others credit olive oil for protecting the body against breast cancer.

And consuming extra-virgin olive oil is also linked with a lowered risk of Alzheimer’s disease and slower cognitive decline as well as a lessening of other neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, estimated at a rate as high as 13 percent.

Consuming olive oil is also good for mental health. According to Spanish researchers from the University of Navarra, a diet rich in olive oil can help prevent mental illness, and people are 30 percent less likely to suffer from depression when following the Mediterranean diet.


“The United States and Israel have long planned together, exercised together and trained together. And now with the opening of this site, these crucial interactions will happen every day. We’ll have Israeli airmen, U.S. soldiers living and working side by side.” -U.S. National Guard in Europe’s Deputy Commander Maj. Gen. John Gronski

On Monday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced the establishment of the first permanent U.S. military base on Israeli soil charged with defending against rocket and missile attacks. (Photo: U.S. base in Israel/via CBN News)

“We’ve established, for the first time in the State of Israel, the IDF, a permanent U.S. military facility, flying the American flag,” Brig. Gen. Tvika Haimovitch, commander of the IAF’s Aerial Defense Division, said.

The facility, located within the Israel Air Force’s School of Aerial Defense not far from the southern city of Beersheva, will permanently house dozens of American soldiers stationed in Israel as part of a task force, the IDF said on its website.

In addition to barracks, the finished base will include recreational facilities and other special features for U.S. air defense soldiers.

The U.S. soldiers will operate the complex radar system that tracks the flight path of ballistic missiles, as well as rockets and missiles fired from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

The base, which has been two years in the making, will help the IAF and the U.S. task force “improve detection, interception and deployment in aerial defense, while strengthening cooperation.”

It will also extend the daily life of the task force, the IDF said, describing it as a U.S. military zone that will operate under IDF guidelines and regulations.”

“Part of the process of establishing the foundation stems from the process of a culture of cooperation. I appreciate the way the Americans respect the State of Israel,” Haimovitch said.

The U.S. military’s European Command (EUCOM) will run the base. U.S. National Guard in Europe Deputy Commander Maj. Gen. John Gronski also stressed the “strong bond” between the two countries.

Last week, the IDF established a new Iron Dome battalion. The Iron Dome, designed to intercept short and medium-range missiles, played a key role during Operation Protective Edge, when Hamas launched dozens of rockets and missiles at Israel. The Iron Dome has also been deployed against threats along the northern border.

“This battalion is one of the takeaways of Operation Protective Edge and of our operational understanding of the threats we deal with today and are expecting to deal with in the future,” he said.

Both countries believe the establishment of a permanent U.S. base on Israeli soil will enhance the ability to handle future challenges.

“The United States and Israel have long planned together, exercised together and trained together,” Gronski said. “And now with the opening of this site, these crucial interactions will happen every day. We’ll have Israeli airmen, U.S. soldiers living and working side by side.”

In February the U.S. and Israeli militaries will participate in the biannual Juniper Cobra exercise. The last Juniper Cobra took place in 2016.


Hamas Tunnel Collapses, One Dead


A Hamas tunnel in Rafah, Gaza collapsed on Tuesday, killing a 24-year-old terrorist. The Hamas tunnel  had been discovered  and was under surveillance.

Two Hamas terrorists dead in two tunnel collapses. Pass the candy!

Two Hamas fighters died in separate tunnel collapses in the Gaza Strip overnight, the Palestinian terror organization, which controls the territory, said on Friday.

Khalil al-Dimyati, 32, and Yusef Abu Abed, 22, were killed after two “resistance tunnels” collapsed, Hamas said, referring to tunnels used for military purposes.

It did not give details of the locations or causes of the collapses, but confirmed the two men were members of Hamas’s armed wing.

A security source said one collapse was in Gaza City, while the other was near the city of Khan Yunis.

Their martyrdom came after the march of a great and honorable jihad, and after hard work and Jihad and sacrifice, we count them martyrs…
…The Mujahideen of the Qassam heroes  do not know how to rest, their silence is a jihad and they prepare for as long as the battle bears fruit, from training to manufacturing to digging tunnels of pride and dignity for the homeland. … bound by the promise of the Hereafter, which is inevitably coming on the day of our Mujahideen expel the faces of the Zionists, God willing,from the land…The blood of our martyrs will remain a shining light in the path of liberating Palestine and burning the occupiers until they are defeated from our land.The Al Qaasam Brigades website honors these “martyrs”:

I don’t know exactly how Muslims officially become “martyrs,” but in general Hamas issued statements – sometimes even after fatal car accidents – declaring and praying that Allah accepts them as martyrs.

Two fatal tunnel collapses in one day is unusual, especially when in the summer (during heavy rains many tunnels collapse.)


Temple Mount to be Closed to Jews on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur

The Hijri, the day Muslims mark the beginning of the Islamic new year and where the only celebration is a day off from school, falls on the same day as Rosh Hashana this year, and this has led to a police decision to close the Temple Mount to Jews for Rosh Hashana, according to the Har HaBayit news site.

In addition, the Temple Mount will also be closed to Jews on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish year, because the Temple Mount is always closed to Jews on Saturdays.

If anything changes between then and now, we’ll let you know.

Israel Shoots Down Syrian Drone with Patriot Missile

A Patriot Missile system in Israel.

The drone was successfully knocked down. We do not know yet who was operating the drone.

According to Elnashra News, the Israeli Air Force retaliated against 4 Syrian targets, and the IAF launched their attack from over Lebanon.

After Harvey, Israel’s Leading Wineries Send Wine to Houston for Rosh Hashana

May Hashem give you Of the dew of heaven and the fat of the earth, Abundance of new grain and wine.” Genesis 27:28 (The Israel Bible™)

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation across the greater Houston area, Israel’s leading Golan Heights and Galil Mountain wineries are donating 100 crates of fine wine to local Jewish institutions to celebrate the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, which begins sundown on Wednesday, September 20 and runs through sunset on Friday, Septempter 22.

The leading Israeli wineries decided to help the Greater Houston Jewish community when the storm hit Houston just a few weeks before one of the holiest days of the Jewish calendar.

“In providing wine for the New Year, we hope we can both support the community and remind them that Jews everywhere are standing by their side for the High Holy Days.”


Cases of Israeli wine prepared for shipment to Houston. (Yarden Inc)

The wineries and Yarden Inc. are delivering 25 crates each of Yarden Syrah 2012, Galil Viognier 2013, Galil Rose 2015, and Gilgal Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot 2014 to major Jewish communal institutions, including the Bellaire Jewish Center, the Chabad Lubavitch Center, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston before the new year. These institutions will ensure the wines are available for communal services for Rosh Hashana or provide them to members of the community for the High Holy Days.

Christians and Jews Stand Before Universal King on Rosh Hashana

“Speak to B’nei Yisrael and say to them: These are My fixed times, the fixed times of Hashem, which you shall proclaim as sacred occasions.” Leviticus 23:2 (The Israel Bible™)

The growing phenomenon of Christians observing the Biblical holidays is bringing Jews and Christians closer while helping to eliminate anti-Jewish replacement theology. This phenomenon is creating a new Bible-based aspect within Christianity, and for some Jews, revealing a previously hidden aspect of the holidays.

Wednesday evening begins an intense period including three major Jewish holidays, starting off with Rosh Hashana (the New Year), continuing with Yom Kippur (Day of Repentance) ten days later, and ending with Sukkot. Until recently, this was a uniquely and exclusively Jewish experience. Now, many Christians are finding spiritual meaning in experiencing the feasts and holidays they previously only read about.

The source for the holidays in Judaism is, of course, the Bible, and many Christians are drawn to the holidays for their Biblical origins. Harriett Shipman Casas grew up in South Carolina listening to her father talk about the High Holy Days and keeping the Sabbath. His family origins were from Jerusalem, which perhaps gave him a different perspective than the other members of their Baptist Church.

She said that we should go to church on Saturday, not Sunday,” Shipman told Breaking Israel News. “He also said that we shouldn’t eat any pork or unclean food.”

As she grew older, she felt that something spiritual was lacking in the church. Shipman searched the Bible for answers.

“I read my Bible, taking each chapter apart, sentence by sentence. I kept praying and asking God to show me, and show me He did,” Shipman said, explaining that her search led her to an in-depth study of the Jewish calendar and the Sabbath. The answers she found in the Bible led her on a search for a church that shared this belief, which she eventually found.

“I found out, that they kept not only the Sabbath, but the Holy Days and dietary laws also,” Shipman said.

Kim Kunkel (Photo via Facebook)

In a similar story, Kim Kunkel, a 29-year-old from St. Augustine, Florida, learned about the Biblical holidays from her father. As a devout Christian, he read books about the Temple and “God’s feasts”, so her understanding of the holidays, though Biblically based, is uniquely Christian.

Eventually, the Biblical holidays became a practical part of their religious observance. The prayer group she attended in college held special services on the Friday night preceding the holiday.

“We would celebrate both Jewish and traditionally Christian holidays,” Kunkel told Breaking Israel News. This approach to the holidays continued after university, when Kunkel returned to live with her family. “My family loved the feasts, but they would never give up Christmas.”

The result of Christians connecting to the Biblical holidays is a phenomenon some may find troubling: Christians who incorporate Jewish holidays into their observance.

David Nekrutman (Breaking Israel News)

David Nekrutman, the executive director for the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC), feels that Christian observance of the Jewish holidays is entirely Torah appropriate, especially for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.

“Rosh Hashana is a universal holiday,” Nekrutman told Breaking Israel News. “It is the birthday of the world. All of creation is being judged as to whether they are accepting the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as King of the World.”

“The shofar has all the components of the creation of man, and it breathes,” Nekrutman explained. “It wakes us up to a universal call to action. It is an amazing opportunity to come together.”

For some Christians, rejecting replacement theology, a Christian doctrine which holds that Christians “replaced” Jews in the Biblical covenant with God, led them to search out the Jewish roots of their religion. This inevitably led to the festivals described explicitly in the Bible.

Myrjam, from the Netherlands, grew up attending a Roman Catholic Church and was raised in replacement theology. A little more than two years ago, she began to seriously consider prophecies about the end-of-days. This caused an “inner earthquake resulting in an deeper knowledge of God”.

“I really felt obliged to look into it,” Myrjam told Breaking Israel News. “This got me into a spiritual roller-coaster that completely consumed me and my husband. In the end, I had a deeper knowledge of the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob. When you dive into end times, sooner or later you will run into Israel.”

This powerful epiphany led to a search for the Torah roots of her faith.

“My eyes were opened to a whole new beautiful world to explore,” she said. “That is Israel, the Jewish people, and God’s appointed times.”

Myrjam and her family began keeping Shabbat, which quickly led to observing the Biblical holidays.

“We keep God’s appointed days and times, though we started out keeping them clumsy at first, we do the best we can, learn, and ask God to show us the way.”

In the same manner as religious Jews, Myrjam has been working on repentance for the past month, the Hebrew month of Elul, in preparation for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. “We have been sounding the shofar every day, not drinking alcohol, reading Psalm 27 every day, and searching our souls, asking for forgiveness,” she told Breaking Israel News.

Myrjam plans on celebrating all the High Holidays this season.

“We will be attending the service at our church this Thursday and blowing the shofar,” she said. “Everyone will bring nice foods, probably with apples from our garden and make some loud noise, the kids will love that. It really is an adventure as we don’t know anything about these traditions and apart from the church, we don’t have anyone to teach us.”

Yom Kippur, the day of repentance, is more theologically challenging than Rosh Hashana for many Christians.

“I still think more like an Evangelical Christian,” Kunkel said. “We can feel guilty and unsure about sin at times and ask for forgiveness or repent at any time in the year. We don’t really have the idea about doing it all on Yom Kippur and fasting, so that is still a new idea to me.”

Nekrutman explained that this difficulty is not uncommon since Judaism and Christianity have very different approaches to repentance.

“In Jewish tradition, repentance is universal and not individual,” Nekrutman explained. He emphasized that even the language used in Jewish prayer books is written in the first-person plural. “We sinned. On Yom Kippur, we turn to the king in national repentance.”

Nekrutman explained that as more Christians observe the holidays, a unique message for Jews is being revealed.

“On the holidays of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana, Jews need to ask ourselves, are we relating to our Torah-mandated commission to the world? Have we uplifted the world? Have we been a light unto the nations?” Nekrutman asked. “If we make Rosh Hashana exclusive to one religion, we are closing the doors on our universal repentance.”