By Aaron Gann
The Fall Feasts of the Lord will soon be upon us. The Feast of Trumpets (also known as Rosh Hashanah) begins the evening of September 6, and Yom Kippur begins the evening of September 15. There is a special period of ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur called “The High Holy Days” or “The Days of Awe.” These days are meant to be a time of intense introspection of one’s life before God.
Rabbinic tradition states that on Rosh Hashanah the Lord opens the books of life and death and enters into judgment with his people. The wholly righteous are immediately inscribed into the Book of Life, and the utterly wicked are written into the Book of Death for the coming year. However, most people are neither wholly righteous nor wicked and thus have ten days to gain their place in the Book of Life before Yom Kippur. This is done by three acts: repentance, charitable deeds, and prayer. The hope is that these actions would move God's heart of compassion and so grant the person another year of life. On Yom Kippur, the person’s fate is sealed, and the books are closed until Rosh Hashanah of the next year.
During this time, continue to keep the Jewish people in prayer, as this is when the Jewish community is concentrating on the fact of sin and the need for atonement. Pray for the Jewish community to see the light of Jesus the Messiah as they seek atonement for their sins.
Please also pray for the safety of the Jewish community. In the past decade, anti-Semitic incidents have increased in the United States, including vandalism and graffiti, cemetery desecration, and public harassment. This year alone, there were 193 reported incidents during the 11 days of violence between Israel and Hamas, including a Jewish individual being beaten in Los Angeles, protestors chanting, “Intifada!” in front of a synagogue in Skokie, Illinois, and a trending social media phrase, “Hitler was Right.”
Those who hate the Jewish people sometimes target their attacks during the High Holy Days. In 2019, a synagogue in Brooklyn, New York, had windows broken during a Rosh Hashanah service, and a Holocaust memorial park was vandalized on the eve of Yom Kippur in a New York suburb. In 2016, a Jewish cemetery was vandalized with spray-painted swastikas during the Days of Awe in upstate New York.
Please pray for the US Jewish community to be safe from those who would seek to harm or kill Jews because they see all Jews as responsible for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or simply for being Jewish. Pray for those who would seek their harm to be stopped, and pray that we, as the Church, would confront the flood of anti-Semitism that appears to be rising and support and defend the Jewish communities around us. Let us remember that the Jewish people are Jesus’ brothers and sisters in the flesh, and ministering mercy to them is ministering to Jesus (Matt 25:31-46).
Aaron Gann recently completed an internship with CMJ USA. Aaron is a seminarian at Shepherds Theological Seminary in North Carolina and an aspirant discerning a call to ordained ministry within the Anglican Church in North America. He and his wife, Rebecca, reside in Raleigh, North Carolina.