Skip to content

Richmond community celebrates Jewish new year

The two-day celebration of Rosh Hashanah begins on Sept. 15 and ends on Sept. 17 this year
Grades 5 to 7 students at the Richmond Jewish Day School made their very own Shofar horn in preparation for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. Richmond Jewish Day School photo

The Jewish community in Richmond will be celebrating the start of the year — Rosh Hashanah — this weekend.

This year, the Jewish New Year celebration will begin on Friday, Sept. 15, and end on Sunday, Sept. 17.

On Sunday, community members will be gathering at three different bodies of water and sounding the shofar (the ram’s horn) — the pond at Minoru Park and the West Dyke near Blundell Road at 5 p.m. and the South Arm Park at 5:30 p.m.

Rabbi Yechiel Baitelman told the Richmond News it is the custom to visit a body of water with fish to pray for a year of happiness, health and all blessings for individuals and humanity.

“We are told that fish never blink. So we ask God that he should not blink in the year to come, and his divine providence should be looking after us and the entire world… throughout the whole year,” he explained.

For the past couple of weeks, Chabad Richmond volunteers delivered several hundred meals to community members in preparation for the Rosh Hashanah.

Included in the meal are honey, honey cakes, an assortment of traditional foods, and a round challah made specially for Rosh Hashanah.

“While we eat what’s called the challah bread every Friday night and Saturday, every Shabbat, on Rosh Hashanah, it takes on unique dimensions,” said Baitelman.

Sweet ingredients such as raisins are added to the challah during the new year, and it takes on a round shape rather than the typical braided shape.

A challah baking class, organized by Chabad Richmond, was held earlier this week as part of the holiday preparations as well.

Finding creative ways to introduce traditions

Baitelman told the News Jewish traditions have remained “very strong,” although the chabad has had to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic by holding outdoor celebrations instead.

It is also dedicated to finding “innovative, creative educational tools” to introduce such traditions to younger generations.

One such innovation is its workshops for children to fashion their own shofars using animal horns, which has become a staple over the years.

“Over the last week or so, we’ve made a couple of hundred horns with children throughout the Lower Mainland and Richmond as well,” said Baitelman.

Beyond Rosh Hashanah, the chabad will also be celebrating another creative approach to teaching traditional values and ideas.

In November, Aleeza Ben Shalom from the hit Netflix show Jewish Matchmaking is coming to Richmond to share her experience on the show and give advice to community members looking for their significant others.

“(The show has) taken what is a tradition of matchmaking and brought it into the modern era,” said Baitelman.

He added that thanks to the show, young people have become interested in exploring the path of matchmaking.

To find out more about Rosh Hashanah celebrations in Richmond, visit Chabad Richmond’s website.