Friday, September 18, 2009

Shana Tova Umetukah...

This evening at sundown marks the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Not being Jewish, I did need to Wikipedia it to learn more. Rosh Hashanah marks the start of the Jewish civil year; it is the new year for people, animals and legal contracts. The first of the High Holidays - days set aside to focus on repentance and which conclude with Yom Kippur - Rosh Hashanah is a day of rest and reflection to cleanse oneself of his/her sins before the end of the year.

Me being me, I spent particular time reading the section on meals and traditional foods. Apples and honey are often included to symbolize a sweet start to the new year. Foods eaten vary with the community, but typical additions to the meal include dates, black-eyed beans, leek, spinach, gourd, pomegranates and challah.

By the way, my blog title is a Rosh Hashanah greeting that means, "a good and sweet year."

In a nice confluence of events (I would make a terrible journalist as I usually find out about things after the fact), I saw a story in the New York Times today about the cantor of the then-first Jewish religious ceremony in Germany since Hitler's rise. In late October, 1944, NBC radio broadcast a short service conducted by Sidney Lefkowitz, a rabbi and unit leader. His cantor that day was Pfc. Art Fuchs, then 22 years old. Typical of WWII veterans, Fuchs was reticent about his service and only admitted to playing a part in the historic service when questioned directly by his daughter 65 years after the fact.

The NYT story linked to the YouTube video of the mini-documentary the American Jewish Committees commissioned after one of its staffers, Charlotte Bonelli, found the original sound recording of the service in the Library of Congress. Below is that documentary.

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