New Year celebrations

Naomi Saunderson is Head of Internal Communications and, as part of National Inclusion Week, she tells us about how she prepares for the Jewish new year.

At the senior leadership conference earlier this year we heard from Therese Proctor who talked about the importance of bringing our ‘whole selves’ to work.  Her point was that, if you feel you can’t be yourself at work or that you have to hide something about you, then you are not going to be as effective as you could be.

Being Jewish is a big part of who I am, but something that I seldom talk about with colleagues.  I guess because I don’t have that many deep conversations about religion at work!  But the talk from Therese got me thinking about whether I do bring my whole self to work.  In an effort to rectify that, and with it being national inclusion week, I thought I would tell you a bit about the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah), which I celebrated last week.

For me, Rosh Hashanah means spending time with my family. I have so many special childhood memories of Rosh Hashanahs with my crazy, noisy family!  And I hope that we are making similar memories for my own children.

Rosh Hashanah means food, food and more food.  And did I mention the eating?  It is traditional to eat sweet foods for a sweet and healthy new year, so there is a lot of honey cake and also the tradition of apple dipped in honey.  It is a two- day festival and I feel a stone heavier after it!

Rosh Hashanah is a real marker in the year for me, much more than my birthday or New Year’s Eve. It is one of the holiest festivals of the Jewish calendar, and is both a time for celebration but also reflection – reflecting and saying sorry for past mistakes, and praying for a better year ahead. It’s a chance to take stock and really think about what’s important in life.

Rosh Hashanah marks the start of the ‘days of awe’, with Yom Kippur following 10 days later.  Yom Kippur means ‘day of atonement’ and comes with a 25 hour fast.  We spend Yom Kippur reflecting on forgiveness and committing to become better people.  By repenting we believe we can atone for any wrong doings and start with a clean slate for the year ahead.

Yom Kippur starts tonight so I am off now to prepare for the fast ahead.  I hope I have given you a little more insight into these days that are so important to me.

If you would like to comment on Naomi’s blog, please do so below.

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  1. 1

    Thank you Naomi for sharing your family traditions and explaining how important this is to you, sounds a wonderful, wholesome time of year!

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    Thank you for sharing this, Naomi. It’s always interesting to hear about different religious festivals and gives a real insight into the lives of colleagues outside of work.

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    Naomi – great to get this perspective on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Sounds as though that 25 hour fast is essential for the waistline too as well as the religious reflection!

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    Thank you for taking the time to share insights about your special family time. As you say, it is really important to bring your whole self to work and I hope all Jewish colleagues will feel inspired to share their experiences of the ‘days of awe’ with their teams.

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    A lovely insight to your celebrations Naomi, thanks for sharing. Wishing you a L’Shana Tova (albeit a week late!).

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