International Day of Peace

September 21 is the day of celebration for International Day of Peace.  Also called World Peace Day it was first celebrated in 1982. According to Wiki, “it is dedicated to world peace, and specifically the absence of war and violence, such as might be occasioned by a temporary ceasefire in a combat zone for humanitarian aid access.”

To begin the celebration for this special day, the United Nations Peace Bell is rung at UN Headquarters in New York City. The bell is cast from coins donated by children from all continents except Africa. It was a gift from the United Nations Association of Japan, as “a reminder of the human cost of war”; the inscription on its side reads, “Long live absolute world peace”.

So many people speak of peace as the ideal condition for all mankind but fail to see how they can help the world’s condition and the lack of peace.  In reality it takes much more than having nations agree to no war and solving national conflicts.  If every person in the world could make a vow to involve peace in every aspect of their life, we could reach that dream and every day would be an International Day of Peace.

International Day of Peace
International Day of Peace

You might ask, how can I as an individual without any political power and influence possibly have any bearing on this ideal of  peace for the world. ” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has given the following suggestions,

“On this International Day of Peace, let us pledge to teach our children the value of tolerance and mutual respect.  Let us invest in the schools and teachers that will build a fair and inclusive world that embraces diversity.  Let us fight for peace and defend it with all our might.”



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Yom Kippur, High Holy Holiday For Jews

Yom Kippur, High Holy Holiday For Jews
Yom Kippur, High Holy Holiday For Jews

 

Yom Kippur is considered to be  a high holy holiday for Jews.  For the year 2013 it begins on the evening of Sept 13th and ends on the evening of Sept. 14th.  Three of the Jewish holidays, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot are celebrated during the Jewish month of Tishrei.  The significance of this is represented with the belief that the number three is identified with balance, the Essence, and the symbol of the triangle as stability.

The holiday represents forgiveness of sins committed against God.  The custom is to dedicate the eve of Yom Kippur to apologies for sins committed against fellow human beings, but an apology or compensation is not sufficient unless forgiveness by the injured person is also requested.  It is customary to invite transgressors to also participate in Yom Kippur services.

According to Wikipedia:

"Five additional prohibitions are traditionally observed, as detailed in the Jewish oral tradition (Mishnah tractate Yoma 8:1)

The number five is a set number, relating to:

  1. In the Yom Kippur section of the Torah, the word soul appears five times.
  2. Soul, in the Torah is known by five separate names: soul, wind, spirit, living one and unique one.
  3. Unlike regular days, which have three prayer services, Yom Kippur has five- MaarivShacharisMussafMinchah and Neilah
  4. The Kohen Gadol rinsed himself in the mikveh five times on Yom Kippur.[6]

The traditions are as follows:

  1. No eating and drinking
  2. No wearing of leather shoes
  3. No bathing or washing
  4. No anointing oneself with perfumes or lotions
  5. No marital relations "

These activities parallel the human condition and the Biblical account of expulsion from the garden of Eden. The purpose of these prohibitions is to make both the body and spirit uncomfortable and to feel compassion to others feel when they are in pain.

Each religion has their own important holy days and Yom Kippur is considered to a high holy day of great importance for Jews throughout the world.


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Rosh Hashanah, The Jewish New Year

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year

 

As September begins it brings to remind that the Fall seasonal holidays are not far behind. Presently Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year for 2013 is being celebrated from sundown Sept. 4 to nightfall on Sept.6.  The literal meaning of Rosh Hashanah is “head of the year” and is considered one of four new years in the Jewish new year. It marks the completion of the creation of the world and is considered the new year of people, animals and legal contracts in the Jewish oral tradition.

According to the Huffington Post, “Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days, or Yamim Noraim (the “Days of Awe“), and is followed 10 days later by Yom Kippur, the “day of atonement.” The Mishnah refers to Rosh Hashanah as the “day of judgment,” and it is believed that God opens the Book of Life on this day and begins to decide who shall live and who shall die. The days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are viewed as an opportunity for Jews to repent (teshuvah, in Hebrew) and ensure a good fate.”

Rosh Hashanah is the only Jewish holiday celebrated for two days and also is the only major holiday celebrated on a new moon.  Traditional ways of celebrating the holiday include gathering in synagogues for extended services that follow the liturgy of a special prayerbook, called a mahzor, that is used during the Days of Awe. A shofar, or ram’s horn, is blown at specific times during the service. The Mitsvah or commandment is  a literal and spiritual wake up call to hear the shofar. Traditional foods include apples and honey, raisin challah, honey cake and pomegranate and a favorite greeting is shana tovah u’metukah, Hebrew for “a good and sweet new year.”