Tuesday, September 15, 2015

5 Ways Girls Observe Rosh Hashanah

Did you know some of the first Girl Scout troop leaders were Jewish? When Juliette Gordon Low assembled the first Girl Scout troop in 1912, three of  the four close friends she invited to be the first troop leaders--Leonora Amram, Mildred Guckenheimer, and Henrietta Falk--were members of the Congregation Mickve Israel, the third oldest synagogue in America. 
Houston has one of the country's most diverse communities, and how fortunate for the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council that we are able to share with and learn so much from our different members.

Last month Troop #08651 observed Ramadan, and shared with us it's special meaning to them. Well this month, many girls from our Jewish community are observing Rosh Hashanah, otherwise known as the Jewish New Year.  Celebrated between Labor Day and Columbus Day, it lasts for one or two days, depending on your branch of Judaism.

Rosh Hashanah is a happy, festive occasion, though very unlike our American New Year. This is a solemn celebration and a time to reflect over the previous year and begin mental preparations for the Jewish day of atonement, Yom Kippur. On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, those who observe the days usually go to a synagogue where they gather with family, friends, and others in their community.

Because there are different branches of Judaism, people observe the holiday differently, but you will find Girl Scouts who observe Rosh Hashanah celebrate mainly by doing these five things:

  1. Reflect on your past and your future. This is a time to think back, learn from your mistakes and make resolutions to do better. 
  2. Visit the mikvah, which in Hebrew means "ritual bath". This looks somewhat like a miniature swimming pool, which people will immerse themselves in as a sign of renewal.
  3. Attend Rosh Hashanah services at a synagogue. Girls will dress up very nicely for this in formal dresses.
  4. Listen to the Shofar.  The shofar is a ram's horn. It is blown during the service by the "Ba'al Tekiah", or shofar blower. It is a symbol of spiritual awakening and reflection. 
  5. Say a blessing. Often challah (hebrew bread), wine, and candles are used in ceremony, and it is tradition to say a blessing over them. 

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Girls of all grade levels can earn thMy Promise, My Faith pin, which complements existing religious recognitions and allows girls to further strengthen the connection between their faith and Girl Scouts. Once each year, a girl can earn the My Promise, My Faith pin by carefully examining the Girl Scout Law and tying it directly to tenets of her faith. Learn more by visiting GSUSA's Girl Scouts and Faith page.