Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) begins at sundown Sept 28. However you will not find Rosh Hashanah in the Bible, because there the holiday is referred to as the Feast of Trumpets, or Yom Teruah (pronounced “true-ah”).
A couple of years ago, our executive director David Brickner wrote:
… Despite the name change [from Yom Teruah to Rosh Hashanah], the blowing of trumpets remains the central religious element of the festival even to this day. During the synagogue services on this holy day, the trumpet is traditionally blown a total of 100 times. However, the trumpet we use for this holiday is not made of brass or silver. The instrument that takes center stage on this day is from a far more ancient tradition; it is a ram’s horn, also called a shofar.
If you have never heard the blast of a shofar, I want to assure you it is not the most aesthetically pleasing sound. The most common type is a short ram’s horn that makes a piercing, wailing sound. The much longer Yemenite shofar makes a lower and fuller sounding blast that is still rather eerie. Neither horn is designed to sound pleasing, but rather the blast of these trumpets is meant to get our attention, and that is exactly the point of the Feast of Trumpets. God has something to say and we had better take heed.
This world we live in constantly cries out for our attention, beckoning us to be consumed by our surroundings, captivated by our troubles, controlled by the pursuit of pleasure. But our Creator calls us to lift our eyes above the fray and distractions. He calls us to see ourselves and our circumstances from a different perspective, to reach beyond mundane and temporal realities and draw near to the spiritual and eternal truths that spring from the domain of the Holy One. Throughout the Scripture, God has used the trumpet, the shofar, to call Israel and all who will hear to pause … and listen to this deeper reality.
All our branches will be having special holiday services.* On Rosh Hashanah we not only sound the ram’s horn (shofar), but we also serve traditional honey cakes as well as sliced apples to dip in honey.
Some of our branches will also have special holiday outreaches. Last year our Moscow team had a “mini-campaign” for the holidays.
Maxim Ammosov, our branch leader there, recalled, “Our publications director, Ira, wanted to get photos from our Rosh Hashanah outreach. Moscow administrator Tanya usually takes photos for us. I was handing out tracts at a distant Moscow subway station. Tanya came and started to do her job, catching some good moments on film. I was trying to talk to people, but honestly I was more aware of the camera than my real purpose for being there. Suddenly, I saw a man with a red bag and began a conversation with him. Our conversation was going very well, and very soon I forgot about the camera. Mikhail is a veteran of World War II; he is Jewish and he told me that he believed the gospel. He was so willing to pray with me the sinner’s prayer and I believe he received Christ that day. I remember feeling something supernatural, God’s presence, and another reality. As is usual in a Moscow subway everyone seemed to be in a hurry—but Mikhail and I were not in rush; we were in peace, in shalom, in God’s presence. Thank You, Jesus! Please pray for Mikhail to grow in faith.