The Jewish community celebrates the High Holy Days this time of year. Those days begin with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, which inaugurates the period in which God evaluates whether or not we are worthy of life for the coming year. They extend through Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, during which Jews complete their atonement for the sins of the past year, and during which God seals the Book of Life. And they culminate in Sukkot, the celebratory Feast of Booths, during which Jews commemorate the journey through the wilderness, and Simchat Torah, a celebration of the completion of the annual cycle of the Torah reading.
Each of these holidays has its own mystical wonder, its own ceremonial uniqueness. On Rosh Hashana, prayers include long, ancient poems musing on the wonders of God; at our meals, we say new blessings over the coming year. On Yom Kippur, we fast and pray, avoid wearing leather, don white garments, and imitate the angels, reminding ourselves and God that man can aspire to a higher way of life. On Sukkot, we repair to outdoor booths covered by greenery to help us recall that the material world is temporary, and that the spiritual world remains eternal. Finally, on Simchat Torah, we dance madly and joyously with the Torah scroll, proclaiming the kindness of the God who gave it to mankind.