Rosh Hashanah: The Jewish New Year

By Olivia Capriotti

The fall season for many Americans signify football, Halloween, and apple-picking- But for American Jews, the season is full of holidays to celebrate. This year, on Rosh Hashanah, we celebrate the new year and what it will bring us. It is a time to reflect on ourselves and learn from our mistakes. The phrase itself literally means “beginning of the year,” and lasts from Sunday, October 2 at sunset, to Tuesday, October 4 at nightfall. It officially starts on October 3, but Jewish holidays always begin the night before. On Sunday, we give thought to charity and repentance by reciting blessings called sehilot. Many will visit a synagogue in the morning on Monday and Tuesday, where a shofar is blown. The shofar is a ram’s horn that symbolizes spiritual awakening and is blown four different ways. Tekiah, which is one blast that extends for a few seconds and ends abruptly.

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A shofar (Photo from ajudaica.com)

The second way is called Shevarim and it is three, one-to-two-second blasts that go from low to high. After is Teruah, which consists of nine rapid blasts. The last one is called Tekiah Gedolah and is held for as long as possible.

Another event practiced is going to a lake, river, or sea to carry out tashlich on the first afternoon of the holiday. Tashlich is a symbolic act that involves saying prayers so that one can cast their sins into the water. Nevertheless, it all comes down to how religiously structured the person is and how they decide to celebrate the holiday.

Food plays an important role in the celebration as well. Honey is used to wish those a “sweet year”. Apples are dipped into it, and a blessing is recited to ask God for a good year. After this is eaten, cups of wine are lifted and we recite a blessing called kiddush to praise God. Then, a bread called challah is uncovered and the blessing HaMotzi is recited to thank God for bread. On the second night of the holiday, the “new fruit” is eaten to represent a new life. Rimon, which means pomegranate, is used for the fruit because of how its 613 seeds represent the 613 commandments.

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Challah (Photo from dishmaps.com)

Rosh Hashanah is one of the most important holidays for Jewish people, bringing families across the globe to come together and celebrate what the new year has in store.

 

 

 

 

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