Over fifty people gathered on Sunday 29th September to take part in York’s unique Rosh Hashanah seder at the Clement’s Hall, to mark the start of the Jewish new year.  Led by visiting Rabbi Rachel Benjamin, the informal meal comprising the eating of twelve different symbolic foods is in marked contrast to the more traditional religious services elsewhere, but hopefully captures the joyous spirit of the occasion.

The foods included the common custom of eating apples in honey to symbolise the hope for a sweet new year, with the eating of dates to symbolise peace, carrots (to help us see more clearly in the year ahead) and heads of lettuce, to encourage us to be leaders not followers.  The fair-trade chocolate, marking the aspiration for fairness in the new year, was particularly popular.

Hannah Rich (14) blew the shofar (a ram’s horn trumpet) to mark the beginning of the New Year.

A more traditional Rosh Hashanah morning service was held the next morning at the Friends Meeting House home and was followed by the traditional ceremony of tashlich, which involves casting breadcrumbs on to flowing water, to symbolise our desire to cast off our sins.

The unique nature of York’s Rosh Hashanah continued when the swollen waters of the River Ouse meant that members of the community needed a substantial cricket throw to get the breadcrumbs into the river current.

High holy day festivals will continue with an Erev Shabbat service on 4th October and Kol Nidre on the evening of the 8th.  See here for details.