With the High Holidays quickly approaching, we always like a quick refresher on what these celebrations are all about. If you’re anything like us, the information you *may* have gained during your Sunday School years is not always at the forefront of your mind, so we’re here to help. Below is a cliff notes version of Rosh Hashanah—the who, what, when and where of everything you need to know for the beginning of the Jewish new year.
Begins sundown on Sunday, September 13th and ends sundown on Monday, September 14th or Tuesday, September 15th, depending on your affiliation. Reform congregations traditionally observe Rosh Hashanah for one day, while Conservative and Orthodox synagogues observe it for two.
- Literally meaning “the head of the year”, Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, and happens on the first day of the Jewish month, Tishrei.
- While we are welcoming the new year, Rosh Hashanah is also intended to be a deeply spiritual time.
- It marks the beginning of the 10 Days of Awe, a period of self-reflection during which we are meant to atone for our past year’s sins. If you attend religious services, you will likely hear language related to one’s fate being written and sealed. Jewish tradition tells us that G-d decides each person’s outcome for the year during the 10 day period beginning on Rosh Hashanah and ending on Yom Kippur. We pray, repent and apologize during this time in hopes of improving G-d’s verdict for us.
- Rosh Hashanah is one of the most common times that Jews go to synagogue. Congregations hold both evening and daytime Rosh Hashanah services. The shofar (a true Rosh Hashanah favorite) is blown during the daytime services.
- We wish each other “Shana Tovah” Hebrew for “Happy New Year.”
- It is customary for family and friends to join together for a Rosh Hashanah dinner. At this meal, round Challah is often served, symbolizing the circle of life. It is also tradition to eat apples and honey to signify a sweet new year.
- A ceremony known as Tashlich is typically performed on Rosh Hashanah afternoon (day one). It involves tossing an item (usually bread) into a nearby body of water (ocean, river or pond will do), as a symbol of ridding oneself of past transgressions.