This is our skinny on the Jewish New Year. A what, when, why, where and how.
What:Rosh Hashanah literally means “head of the year” and considered the new year to mark the symbolic completion of the creation of the world.
When: Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is begins tonight at sunset and celebrated from sundown on September 24 to nightfall on September 26. Based on the lunar calendar, it always falls during the new moon. The Hebrew calendar is different from the Gregorian calendar and in 2014 the Jewish New Year is 5775 in the Jewish month of Tishrei.
Why: Rosh Hashanah kicks off the Jewish High Holy Days or Yamim Noraim (the “Days of Awe”) and ends 10 days later on Yom Kippur, the “day of atonement” and holiest of the Jewish holidays. Between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur it is believed that God opens the Book of Life on this day begins to decide who lives and who dies. Observant Jews take this time to examine their actions of the past year and repent or atone for their sins and ask for forgiveness for any wrong doing. Although I’m not Jewish, I’m married to a Jew and I find the reflective process helpful and healing. Any time we have the opportunity for tapping into self-awareness is opportunity for self-growth. When we know better, we do better.
Where: Most Jews gather in synagogues on Rosh Hashanah for services using the prayerbook, called a mahzor. At specific times during the service, a shofar, or ram’s horn is blown as a literal “wake up call” to get the spiritual message.
How: The common greeting on Rosh Hashanah is shana tovah or happy year or the more complete shana tova u’metukah, Hebrew for “have a happy and sweet new year.” Traditional Rosh Hashanah foods includes sweet challah bread, honey cake, apples and pomegranates with honey to ensure a sweet new year.