Understanding the Significance of the High Holidays

Jul 24, 2021


Welcome to Solomon Schechter Day School, a leading educational institution that nurtures young minds while fostering a strong sense of Jewish identity. As part of our commitment to community and society, we invite you to join us in celebrating and observing the High Holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the rich traditions and customs associated with these important Jewish holidays.

1. Rosh Hashanah - The Jewish New Year

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, marks the beginning of the Ten Days of Repentance, a period of introspection and self-reflection. It is a time to reconnect with our faith, seek forgiveness, and strive for personal growth. During Rosh Hashanah, we gather as a community to pray, blow the shofar (a traditional ram's horn), and enjoy festive meals with family and friends.

1.1 The Symbolic Traditions

On Rosh Hashanah, various symbolic traditions are observed to ensure a meaningful and memorable holiday experience. These include:

  • Eating apples dipped in honey to symbolize a sweet new year
  • Reciting special prayers and blessings
  • Tashlich - casting away breadcrumbs into flowing water to symbolize the casting away of sins

2. Yom Kippur - The Day of Atonement

Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement, is considered the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. It is a day of fasting, prayer, and deep reflection, during which we seek forgiveness from both God and others. Yom Kippur offers us the opportunity to cleanse our souls, reconcile with our fellow human beings, and start the new year with a clean slate.

2.1 The Importance of Fasting

Fasting from sunset to sunset is one of the key observances of Yom Kippur. This act of self-denial helps us focus on the spiritual aspects of the day, emphasizing the need for repentance and reflection. By refraining from food and drink, we turn our attention inward, acknowledging our shortcomings and committing to improving ourselves in the year ahead.

2.2 The Kol Nidrei Service

Yom Kippur is preceded by the Kol Nidrei service, a solemn and emotional experience that sets the tone for the day. During this service, the haunting melody of Kol Nidrei fills the sanctuary, as congregants join together in a collective plea for forgiveness and mercy.

3. Join Our Community

At Solomon Schechter Day School, we provide a nurturing and inclusive environment where students, families, and the broader community can come together to celebrate and observe the High Holidays. Our experienced educators and knowledgeable clergy guide our students in understanding the significance of these traditions, while instilling a strong sense of Jewish identity.

3.1 Educational Programs and Activities

We offer a range of educational programs and activities that allow students to actively engage with the High Holidays. These include:

  • Interactive learning sessions on the themes and rituals of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
  • Art and craft projects that help students express their creativity and deepen their understanding
  • Collaborative storytelling sessions to explore the rich history and symbolism behind these holidays

3.2 Community Celebrations

As a school community, we organize vibrant and inclusive celebrations for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. These events bring together students, parents, and educators, fostering a sense of belonging and creating lasting memories for all. Our community celebrations include:

  • Community-wide services led by our dedicated clergy
  • Social events, such as communal meals and festive gatherings
  • Opportunities for volunteerism and acts of tzedakah (charitable giving)


The High Holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, hold immense spiritual and cultural significance for the Jewish community. At Solomon Schechter Day School, we embrace these traditions and strive to ensure a meaningful experience for all. Join our community as we come together to celebrate, observe, and deepen our connection to our faith and heritage. May the coming year be filled with blessings, growth, and renewal for all.