Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services for secular Jewish humanists

Even if you never studied Jewish history, you cannot escape it if you celebrate Jewish holidays. Many Jewish traditions that have survived today in our historic memory originated as religious rituals. A cornerstone of Humanistic Judaism is to keep Jewish culture alive and vital. In doing so, we observe the Jewish holidays in a meaningful, but non-theistic fashion.

You are invited to join with us in the observance of the Jewish “High Holidays.”

Rosh Hashanah

This year we are delighted to celebrate Rosh Hashanah with the able assistance of Rhea B. Seagull, a member of the Humanistic Jewish Havurah, who will lead our Rosh Hashanah celebration. Ms. Seagull is a Secular Humanistic Leader, certified by the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism. Our celebration will impart the history and modern significance of Rosh Hashanah and will provide a meaningful launch for the 10 days of reflection, renewal of purpose and new beginnings that follow this holiday.

The noon ceremony takes place Monday, October 3 at Vi at Bentley Village, 850 Retreat Drive, Naples (west side of US 41, south of Bonita Beach Road and north of Old 41 Road), and will be followed by lunch. The cost is $25. A check payable to HJH and mailed to S. Barth, 3613 Woodlake Drive, Bonita Springs, FL 34134, will secure your reservation. Please include your name, phone number and email address with your payment. Reservations must be received by September 29.

Yom Kippur

On Wednesday, October 12 at 5:30 p.m. the Havurah will gather to commemorate Yom Kippur with a Nizkor memorial ceremony followed by break-the-fast. Historically, Yom Kippur is a time of awe and reverence, a Day of Repentance, when human beings seek divine forgiveness for sin. Yom Kippur has a different significance for Humanistic Jews. It climaxes the self-examination begun on Rosh Hashanah. Humanistic Jews make Yom Kippur a time of self-forgiveness and forgiveness of others.

The traditional Yizkor (memorial) prayer begins Yizkor Elohim nishmat (“May God remember the soul of...”). Nizkor (“Let us remember...”) is a more meaningful concept for Humanistic Jews. A Nizkor service affirms that human beings preserve the memory of the dead.

This event will also be held at Vi at Bentley Village. The cost is $32. Reservations for the meal, payable by check to HJH, should be mailed to Maraline Rane, 6955 Carlisle Court D-219, Naples, FL 34109. Include your name, phone number and email address with your payment. Reservations must be received by October 7. Please note the different mailing address for this reservation.

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur go together. Next to Shabbat, they became the most important holidays of the Hebrew calendar. For secular humanists the High Holidays are a necessary time to reflect on the relationship of the universe to human need and human desire. Evolution has equipped us with a set of wants to which the rest of nature is generally indifferent. Only through the use of human intelligence can we tame our environment, making it less terrifying and more conducive to human happiness. Exploding stars and galactic circuits may be beyond our control. But cancer and floods are natural enemies that we may someday conquer.

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur open our Jewish year with the most important message of Jewish history. Human dignity is not the gift of destiny. It is human achievement, requiring courage and human self-reliance. If we seek to reconcile ourselves with anybody, we reconcile ourselves with the men and women who share our struggle and who offer us the only realistic support we can expect.