Rosh Hashanah- The Jewish New Year




Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first and second days of the Jewish month of Tishrel. The holiday begins 163 days after the first day of Passover. Tishrei In the lunar calendar is equivalent to September or early October in the western calendar. The earliest Rosh Hashanah can occur is September 5th and the latest is October 5th. On Rosh Hashanah, Jews observe the end of one year and celebrate the beginning of another. Jews become introspective and review their transgressions during the previous year in preparation for the Day of Atonement – Yom Kippur.

Jews believe that the fate of all people is recorded by G-d in the Book of Life- hence, each individual reviews his/her behavior during the prior year in the hopes of being inscribed in the Book of Life.

At the end of the afternoon service on the first day, many worshippers visit a nearby body of water to say prayers and to cast away their sins. Today, many people symbolically cast away their sins by tossing pieces of bread in the water. This ceremony is known as Tashlish.
There are several customs and traditions that are observed on Rosh Hashanah. The most significant part of the service is the blowing of the shofar (rams horn) which begins the ten day period known as the High Holy Days. The shofar is blown to wake us up and remind us to reflect on our year and to be better people. The shofar is blown 100 times during Rosh Hashanah and there is a set sequence of blasts -Iong, short and staccato.

Teki’ah (long sound)
Shevarlm (3 broken sounds)
Teru’ah (9 short sounds)
Tek’ia Gedlah (very Iong sound)
Shevarlm Teru’ah (3 broken sounds followed by 9 short sounds)

With the conclusion of services each day, families and friends gather for a festive holiday meal that includes foods that will ensure sweetness in the New Year. Apples dipped in honey are always served as is a round challah rather than the usual braided one. The round challah, pieces of which are also dipped in honey, symbolizes the eternal cycle of life.
On Rosh Hashanah, many Jews exchange holiday greeting cards with family and friends. They also greet each other with the phrases, “May you be inscribed in the “Book of Life” and “Have a good year- (Shana Tovah”).