JCC Newsletter – Rosh Hashana

Round Challah. The unmistakable, yet subtle indicator of Rosh Hashana compared to the widely practiced apples and honey ritual or more frontal fish or in rarefied circles, sheep’s head. Many an explanation have been proffered by rabbis and bakers alike as to the symbolism behind the often oblong bread dotting many a holiday table. The surfeit of opinions of course gives away that nobody really knows the mystical, possibly kabbalistic significance behind this circular sustenance which very often includes Asher’s favorite, raisins.

The first recorded writing on round challahs comes in 18th century Germany by a rabbi known as the Chasam Sofer. He writes that braided challahs have a front and back meaning a beginning and an end. Round challahs have no end, symbolizing our wish for a year in which life and blessings continue without end. Deep. Another commentary writes that the round challah resembles a crown, representing the presence of the King of Kings at our Rosh Hashana table.

While the idea of not serving round challahs on Rosh Hashana borders on the heretical, until recently bakers were afforded far more creativity in the kitchen. Lithuanian Jews had the custom to bake challah shaped like outstretched palms of the hand, meant to symbolize the hands of the kohens during the Priestly Blessing. The Jews of North Africa used to bake challah in the shape of a fish or a Hamsa, the five-fingered hand symbolizing good luck. Moroccan Jews baked challahs in all kinds of shapes including birds, lions, gazelles, pomegranates and even a seven-rung ladder. May we merit this upcoming year a Great British Bake-Off Rosh Hashana Challah edition that revives the imagination that was once widespread.

Despite an attempted origami tsuru-shaped challah being deemed a total loss, you are still welcome to try the JCC’s traditional, oldie-but-a-goodie, Izaki-san baked round, raisin encrusted challahs throughout the High Holiday season. Don’t forget to dip them in honey.

Wishing You a Sweet New Year 5784.


Erev Rosh Hashanah
Friday, September 15th
Services: 6:30pm
Dinner with reservation: 7:30pm

Rosh Hashanah Day 1
Saturday, September 16th
Morning Service: 9:00am
Lunch with reservation: 1:00pm
Evening Service: 18:00
Dinner with reservation: 7:00pm

Rosh Hashanah Day 2
Sunday, September 17th
Morning Service: 9:00am
Lunch with reservation: 1:00pm
Tashlich at Arisugawa Park (across from National Azabu Supermarket. Meet at the Bridge over the Pond by the front entrance): 16:00

Kabbalat Shabbat Shuva
Friday, September 22nd
Services: 6:00pm
Dinner with reservation: 7:00pm

Erev Yom Kippur
Sunday, September 24th
Before-the-fast meal with reservation: 3:45pm
Kol Nidre: 6:00pm

Yom Kippur
Monday, September 25th
Services: 9:00am
Yizkor: 11:30am
Mincha and Neilah: 4:00pm
Break-the-fast cakes, soft drinks, coffee and tea (all invited): 6:15pm
Break-the-fast meal with reservation: 6:30pm

Erev Sukkot
Friday, September 29th
Services: 6:00pm
Dinner in the Sukkah by reservation: 7:00pm

Sukkot Day 1
Saturday, September 30th
Services: 10:00
Lunch in the Sukkah by reservation: 12:30pm
Maariv Services: 6:00pm
Dinner in the Sukkah by reservation: 7:00pm

Sukkot Day 2
Hebrew School Family Service
Sunday, October 1st
Services: 9:30
Lunch in the Sukkah by reservation: 12:00pm

Shmini Atzeret Kabbalat Shabbat
Friday, October 6th
Services: 6:00pn
Dinner in the Sukkah by reservation: 7:00pm

Shmini Atzeret Shabbat Service with Yizkor
Saturday, October 7th
Services: 10:00
Lunch in the Sukkah by reservation: 12:30pm

Erev Simchat Torah Service
Saturday, October 7th
Services and Dancing with the Torah: 6:00pm
Pizza, refreshments and drinks


Gernsheim Duo Classical Music Concert
Anna Gann, soprano, and Naoko Christ-Kato, piano, will perform live at the JCJ works by respected German-Jewish composers whose works were largely lost and forgotten in the Holocaust. They are dedicated to ensuring these works are not lost to future generations.
Thursday, October 5th at 7pm at the JCC
Registration Details

“Masha the Rich Man”
Maria Raykhman, Ukrainian-German singer/artist, performing live with her autoharp. More info and recordings here:
Thursday, October 19th at 7:30pm at the JCC
Registration Details

JCJ Platinum 70th Anniversary
Saturday, November 11th in the evening
Featuring 70s music, food and cocktails

If you have an idea for an event or a topic you would like to share with others, please visit our website.


Can’t wait to bring in the High Holidays 5784 with you. It’s over a weekend. You really don’t have an excuse. Our HH seats average 60% cheaper than comparable American synagogues. I believe in you.

There is no longer talk of a Shvitz and Shtaig at a Super Sento. The idea of learning Torah in a hot springs environment did not seem too appealing and bordered on the sacrilegious. Those familiar with tri-state area modern orthodox politics may recall the controversy surrounding the ‘sauna rabbi’. The ‘onsen rabbi’ is likely a no less controversial moniker. Nevertheless, you may still reply to this e-mail with your onsen/sento recommendations since they are part of what makes Japan an incredible country.

Yiddish Club with Jack Halpern: Please contact Jack at jack@cjki.org if you are interested to join. All levels are welcome, from beginner to advanced. Much more than just language, the club’s monthly meetings explore Yiddish culture as well.

Rosh Hashana
Candle Lighting Day 1: 5:31pm
Candle Lighting Day 2: 6:26pm
Havdala: 6:25pm