Thursday, 29 September 2011


“Committee - a group of men who keep minutes and waste hours.” - Milton Berle

I’ve had a very busy today, most of it taken up by two meetings, one of which was a monumental one lasting for five hours. Although there was a short break in the middle of it, at the end I was completely exhausted. Fortunately, all went well, including my presentation. I attend many meetings as part of my job and generally, if I am chairing them I try to make them short, efficient and keep them to the points set down on the agenda. However, a couple of meetings that are chaired by other people tend to drag on. I delicately try to speed things up, but one has to be respectful of the chair and one’s fellow committee members.

My 6:18 a.m. train this morning was 25 minutes late because of weather-related problems at the station before mine. Consequently, I got in later than normal at work, at about 7:15 a.m. and I was surprised at how much later than usual it seemed to me. By the time I was ready to go home, it was raining, cold and quite dark. When I got home this evening it was 6:30 p.m., which made for a 12-hour day.

This is the second day of bad weather we have been having, with yesterday afternoon and evening thunderstorms dumping nearly 5 cm of rain on the City, making it the wettest September day in Melbourne for many decades. Airlines were still working extra hard today trying to clear the backlog of passengers at Melbourne Airport, many of whom had slept overnight at the terminal while flight departures were suspended. It’s still raining tonight, but at least no thunder and lightning – Spring with teeth bared!

Today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashanah starts on the first day of Tishrei, which is the seventh month in the Jewish calendar, and is sometimes called the Day of Remembrance or the Day of the Sounding of the Shofar. Rosh Hashanah is one of the holiest days of the year for many Jewish Australians. Some Jewish communities celebrate the event for two days, while others celebrate it for one day.

Jewish New Year is the time when God reviews and judges a person’s deeds in the past year, according to Jewish belief. It is also a time to look ahead with hope, and for personal growth and reflection. Some people visit cemeteries on the eve of the holiday to pay their respects to deceased loved ones.

Many Jewish families gather for special meals to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, which commences at nightfall the day before the actual holiday. The celebrations begin after the evening prayer, when family and friends join in to reflect on the past and make a fresh start for the New Year. The challah bread, pomegranates, and apples dipped in honey, and carrot stew are popular dishes during Rosh Hashanah. Some people eat fish during Rosh Hashanah, while others abstain from fish.

Many Jewish Australians spend their time in the synagogue at some stage during Rosh Hashanah. The shofar is blown like a trumpet in the synagogue during this time of the year. Another activity that occurs during Rosh Hashanah is performing the casting ritual (tashlikh), which involves reciting prayers near naturally flowing water and “throwing sins away” (for example, in the form of bread pieces).  Some people of Jewish faith may take the day off work or organise time off during this time of the year, to observe the belief that no work is permitted on Rosh Hashanah.

The challah bread, which is eaten during Rosh Hashana, symbolises the continuity of life. The apples that are dipped in honey symbolise sweetness and good health throughout the New Year. Some people also eat fish heads, which symbolize their desire to be on top, not the bottom, of life in the New Year. Pomegranates symbolize an abundance of goodness and happiness. The shofar reminds people that God allowed Abraham to sacrifice a ram instead of Abraham’s son, Isaac. The tashlikh is an act that symbolises throwing one’s sins in the water, so people believe that they are freed from their sins.

Happy Rosh Hashanah to my Jewish readers!

shofar |ˈSHōfər, SHōˈfär| noun ( pl. shofars or shofroth |SHōˈfrōt, -ˈfrōs| )
A ram’s-horn trumpet used by ancient Jews in religious ceremonies and as a battle signal, now sounded at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
ORIGIN: From Hebrew šōp̱ār, (plural) šōp̱ārōṯ.


  1. Many thanks :)

    The greeting is "happy new year" and the response is usually something like "and a healthy, happy new year to you and yours".

    Our son and daughter in law arrived from Israel with their family, just in time for the New Year. Along with our Australian son and daughter in law and their children, plus my parents, brothers and their families, we had a very large table.

    But dinner was manageable because everything was prepared over the last fortnight and frozen in alfoil containers. Today we just had to set the table, cut flowers, decant wine and chop salads.

    Our aunts and first cousins live in Israel. Their wish for the New Year is of course peace.

  2. That is very informative...

    Me being always on time is making me crazy when things just dont go on as plan. I can tolerate 15 minutes late/delayed. I don't know my patience for things like that is too short. anyway, let's not deal on that. as if I did not. LOL!

    Happy Rosh Hashanah!..