For Bob Mendelsohn of Jews for Jesus, the next few days represent the prime season for reaching Jewish people with the hope of salvation through Christ.
What’s known as the Jewish High Holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) are taking place on Monday and Tuesday, 26 and 27 September and then Wednesday 5 October. This is the season when Jewish people become aware of their sins and their need to make themselves right before God and with each other.
“Of course, Jewish holidays always start the evening before (Remember Genesis 1, ‘evening and morning.’) As a result of that, we will be conducting evening services on Sunday night the 25th of September in Bondi Junction in cooperation with the Church in the Marketplace,” says Mendelsohn, who is the Australian National Director of Jews for Jesus.
“They extend to us their facility and many of their own people attend our events. It’s a great opportunity for some of you who live nearby to bring your Jewish colleagues, neighbours, family and co-workers, too.”
Rosh Hashanah translates to the idiom “New Year” or literally “Head of the Year,” which celebrates the anniversary of the Creation of the world as recounted in the book of Genesis.
“As a result of that awareness, we represent much of this in our prayers and in our dress and in our activities. We wear new clothes and put food on new tablecloths. The calendar is cyclical, and thus we eat foods that are circular, like apples and like round challahs – the usual braided Sabbath bread,” says Mendelsohn, adding that people usually dip the apple slices in honey as a request for a sweet new year.
“[It’s] like an alarm clock, awakening us a need to repent and to make atonement.”
In this season, God is seen as the Judge and King, and thus Jewish people seek to gain his favour, usually by serious prayers and reconciliation with others.
“The ten days between those two major days are nicknamed the Aseret Y’mei T’shuva or the ‘ten days of awe or repentance.’ We are encouraged and taught to make right with God and with our neighbour. God as King also is reminded us by the round challahs as some say they represent a crown, like a king wears.
“We are asked to listen to the sound of the shofar blasted 100 times on Rosh Hashanah. The shofar is the ram’s horn. The sound of the shofar is haunting at times and alerts us to the time, like an alarm clock, awakening us a need to repent and to make atonement.”
“But during the Ten Days, we are reminded again and again, in synagogues and in private conversations, that our sins are ever before us.”
This is when sin, which at most times is not a big issue for Jewish people, comes to the fore. “We try to do good all year, and then at this season of the year most notably, we consider the problem of sin. Usually, we consider sin only in terms of big evils, like war crimes or major global players getting caught in obvious crimes. But during the Ten Days, we are reminded again and again, in synagogues and in private conversations, that our sins are ever before us.
“You know that without admitting our sins we would never even begin to consider our need for a Saviour. We each had to look at the mirror of our lives, realize our sin, and then begin to look for salvation. That was only found in the Redeemer Yeshua. So we ought to rejoice that ‘sin’ as a topic becomes one in which we can communicate to our Jewish friends, co-workers and neighbours.”
Mendelsohn says Jews for Jesus is increasing our outreach in mailings, phoning, LiveChat assisting, personal visits and helping people who visit its bookshop in Bondi.
“Thanks for being onside with us as we enter this holy season and share the Holy One of Israel with our Jewish people here in Sydney and beyond!”
If you would are Sydney based and like to attend the Rosh Hashanah Service, it’s at 6pm on Sunday 25 September at Church in the Marketplace, 400 Oxford St, Bondi Junction. Apples and honey will follow the celebration.