Rosh Hashanah

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Jewish Holidays
• Judaism

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Rosh Hashanah is one of the holiest of holidays in the Jewish tradition. Rosh Hashanah literally means "head of the year" or "first of the year." It is the beginning of the Jewish New Year and is observed on the first and second day of Tishri, the seventh month of the Jewish calendar. (On the Western Calendar for 2022, this is September 25–26.)

This important holiday also has other significances:

  • It is the Day of Judgment: Jews examine their lives and ask forgiveness for their past sins (many times by walking by a pond or other body of water and symbolically casting their sins into the water);
  • It is the Day of Remembrance: Jews review the history of their people and pray for one another;
  • It is the Day of Shofar Blowing: A shofar is a ram's horn. The blowing of such a horn is a sacred part of Rosh Hashanah ceremonies, the signal for the beginning of the High Holy Days, a 10-day period that ends with Yom Kippur.

One highlight of the holiday is a large meal, consisting of sweet foods that symbolize hope for a good year to come. One food commonly eaten is Challah, a rich bread that is baked in a circle and dipped in honey. Apples dipped in honey are also eaten.

One thing that Jewish people usually do not do on Rosh Hashanah is work. The ideal is for a daylong celebration to take place, featuring longer-than-usual services at a synagogue and then larger-than-usual get-togethers for eating and reflecting on the past and the future.

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David White