Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, are all significant. These significant, biblically-based Jewish holidays and the ten days between them comprise the High Holy Days today. Jews have celebrated these most widely observed of the Jewish holy days since biblical times—and Jesus, being a Jew, commemorated them as well.
Jews begin preparing for this most solemn and holy time during the preceding month of Elul. The 40-day period between the beginning of Elul through Yom Kippur is a time of reflection and soul searching, preparing us for the "Days of Awe" or "Ten Days of Repentance," as the High Holy Days are sometimes called, in the proper spirit. The dominant theme throughout this time is teshuvah, or repentance — literally, "returning to one's self."
Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year. In contrast to the parties and frivolity of the secular New Year, Rosh Hashanah is marked by solemnity and deep moral and spiritual introspection. We are anxious to "wash our slates clean" and begin life anew.
The days leading up to Yom Kippur are a time of prayer, repentance, and doing acts of charity. Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish New Year, is the culmination of the entire High Holy Days drama — and the final opportunity to repent of our sins before God makes a final judgment on each individual for the year. Our greeting to each other during this day, "gemar chatimah tovah," or "May you be sealed [in God's Book of Life] for good," reflects our hope for the new year.
Bible Study Resources
Explore The Jewish High Holy Days and its significance to the Christian faith through these downloadable Bible studies.
Bible Study Resources
Expand your understanding of the High Holy Days, the most holy time of the Jewish year, and its significance not only to the Jewish faith, but also to the Christian faith, through these two Bible studies. Each explores a significant aspect of the two key holy days celebrated at this time, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
What is True Repentance?
This lesson explores how repentance is a major theme throughout Rosh Hashanah and the High Holy Days and what it looks like from the story of King David and Nathan.
Jonah, God's Reluctant Prophet
Through the study of the book of Jonah, we will be reminded of encouraging truths about God — and the reason Jewish people read this story at Yom Kippur.