High Holy Days


The evening of Friday, September 15th marks the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish New Year, and with this celebration the beginning of the “Ten Days of Awe,” which end with the observance of Yom Kippur on September 24th-25th, the Day of Atonement.

Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish New Year, is one of the most holy days on the Jewish calendar. Rosh Hashanah invites the Jewish people to begin reflecting in a spirit of repentance on the past and invite changes for the future. During the Ten Days of Awe, the Jewish people continue this reflection on the past while looking towards the future. Rosh Hashanah is also a time to wish a sweet and happy new year, which is one of the reasons apples dipped in honey are symbolic of this holiday.

Yom Kippur, which is the holiest day of the year for the Jewish people, focuses on atonement and forgiveness. There are several prohibitions on this day, so as to encourage people to focus on prayer. The most well known prohibitions are on eating and drinking, but also extend to wearing leather shoes, wearing perfume, and bathing or washing.

Following Yom Kippur, the Jewish people will celebrate Sukkot beginning on the evening of Friday, September 29th. Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths, celebrates the new harvest. The tradition of building a booth or sukkah near the field being harvested continues today. Many Jews will participate in the building of a sukkah, share a meal inside, and maintain the structure during the 8 days of this festival.

Jewish students, faculty members, administrators, and staff may spend significant time in the synagogue during their observance of the High Holy Days and Sukkot. For more information on religious services and opportunities to observe the High Holy Days in the Milwaukee area, contact Campus Ministry at (414) 288-6873, or our affiliated ministry, Hillel Milwaukee, (414) 961-2010.