This is a cartoon featured in the Chicago-based Jewish newspaper The Sentinel on September 11, 1958, just before Rosh Hashanah. The cartoon features a rabbi standing in front of his community on Rosh Hashanah and beginning his sermon. In front of him sits a very large congregation. The caption of the cartoon includes the rabbi’s opening words: “My dear three-day-a-year Jews…”
The cartoon is referring to Jews who only attend synagogue on the three days of the High Holy Days, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. There are, indeed, many Jews who do not attend services regularly and are not, on the whole, observant or religious but who believe in the importance of attending synagogue services on the special occasion of the High Holy Days.
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Rosh Hashanah – Rosh Hashanah is the celebration of the Jewish New Year which takes place on the first two days of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. It is celebrated by blowing the shofar, lighting candles, eating festive meals, and attending services at the synagogue. Rosh Hashanah is the first of the High Holy days which end 10 days later with Yom Kippur. The ten-day period is called the Ten Days of Repentance, because it is believed that during this period a person’s deeds are judged and the future year is decided. It is a both a festive holiday and a solemn time of introspection which includes prayer, asking forgiveness from others, and giving tzedakah (charity). The prayers on Rosh Hashanah include asking God for a peaceful, prosperous, and healthy year. Rosh Hashanah also celebrates the creation of the world. People greet each other on Rosh Hashanah by saying: “Shana Tova (Happy New Year).” Food customs for Rosh Hashanah vary among the different communities but often include round challahs (instead of the customary long loaf), apples and honey, and pomegranates. Many people send Shana Tova cards to their friends and family.
The Chicago Sentinel - The Chicago Sentinel, a weekly newspaper for the Chicago Jewish community, was one of the longest continuously published Jewish weeklies in the United States. The first issue of the Sentinel was published on February 4, 1911. The newspaper focused on cultural events and included many eye-catching illustrations and photographs. It also published short stories and reports about events in the various Jewish communities. The Sentinel differed from many other English-language, often highbrow, Jewish weeklies, because it reached out to the Zionist immigrants who preferred to read in English and not Yiddish. The Sentinel is a treasure trove for social, cultural, and religious historians who are interested in American Jewish life outside of New York during the twentieth century.