Rosh Hashanah is commonly referred to as the “Jewish New Year.” The day falls on the first of the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar, Tishri . Although it is never actually named, Rosh Hashanah is often described or referred to as “the day of the sounding of the horns (shofar),” “the beginning of the year,” “the day of judgment,” and “the day of remembrance.”
Rosh Hashanah is the first of the High Holy Days or Yamim Noraim (“Days of Awe”), the most solemn days of the Jewish year. The High Holy Days are preceded by the month of Elul, during which we begin self-examination and repentance, a process that culminates in the Ten Days of Repentance, beginning with Rosh Hashanah. But Rosh Hashanah is not the end of the judgment, it is only on Yom Kippur that our judgment is made final and “sealed in the Book of Life.”
The High Holy Day services are unique in many ways. We use a special prayer book for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services. This prayer book contains the specific prayers of the High Holy Days and further sets this time apart as especially sacred.
Rosh Hashanah Traditions
On Rosh Hashanah we wish each other “L’Shanah Tovah T’Katavu” — “May you be written in for a good year.”
We celebrate Rosh Hashanah with sweet foods, like apples dipped in honey and pomegranates. Apples dipped in honey represent our wish for a sweet year. Pomegranates represent abundance. (Have you ever tried to count how many seeds there are in a pomegranate?) We want an abundance of health and happiness for the New Year– just as many good things as there are seed in a pomegranate.
And we have round Challah (not the braided kind we eat during the year), which symbolizes our wish that the coming year will roll around smoothly without unhappiness or sorrow. We dip the Challah in honey, as we do the apples, as another symbol of our hopes for a sweet and happy year. Sometimes decorations, such as doves, are put on the Challah symbolizing our hopes and wishes for peace.
Erev Rosh Hashanah
Sunday, September 29th
Rosh Hashanah, 1st Day
Monday, September 30th
Rosh Hashanah, 2d Day
Tuesday, October 1st
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