Whether a person is religious or not, Rosh Hashanah is a useful day to take stock. Though every moment is a moment that stands between the past and the future, there are some moments when we become aware of that: a birthday, a graduation. A new year. At such moments, we feel more acutely the opportunity - or even the mandate - to consider: where have I come from, and where am I going? How have I been living, and how do I want to live?
For those who choose to honor such a moment within a religious framework, Rosh Hashanah is spent with rituals, prayers, and Torah readings that attempt to wake us up to the reality that this moment can be used as a pivot toward living a better life, to be a better friend, better citizen, or better human. The shofar serves as a wake-up call. The ritual foods and traditional greetings all serve to reinforce this.
And for those who are not comfortable within a religious framework, Rosh Hashanah can still be an impacting, enjoyable, and resonant occasion. Like New Year’s Eve, it is a moment of ending and beginning, of retrospection and introspection, of celebration with a tinge of solemnity.
At MIT Hillel, we honor both of these approaches to Rosh Hashanah.