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What Is Shanah Tovah? New Year Greeting Translation and More

What Is Shanah Tovah? New Year Greeting Translation and More

The meaning of the traditional Rosh Hashanah wishes


The Jewish new year is not just a time to renew our resolve to lose another fifteen pounds. Rather, it’s the time when our fate stands in the balance as G‑d reviews our past year and decides whether or not to renew our lease on His planet. As such, Jewish greetings for this time of year (the Jewish New Year is in the fall) reflect our prayers for a good, sweet year up ahead.

The catch-all greeting you can use for the entire season is “Shanah tovah” (שנה טובה), which means “Good year.” The word “u’metuka” (ומתוקה), and sweet, is sometimes appended to the end.

Here are some other greetings that you may hear:

Before Rosh Hashanah, people wish each other “Ketivah v’chatima tovah”(כתיבה וחתימה טובה) “A good inscription and sealing [in the Book of Life].” On Rosh Hashanah eve, as we return from synagogue service, it is traditional to greet one another with “Leshana tovah tikatev v’tichatem” (לשנה טובה תכתב ותחתם). When greeting a female, this is modified to“Leshana tovah tikatevee v’tichatemee” (לשנה טובה תכתבי ותחתמי). This means, “May you be written and sealed for a good year.”

From noon on Rosh Hashanah, when our fates are already written, until Yom Kippur, when our fates for the coming year are to be sealed, we wish each other “Gemar chatimah tovah” (גמר חתימה טובה), “A good final sealing.”

Now for the Yiddish version: The standard wish is for “A gut gebentsht yohr,” “A good and blessed year” (א גוט געבענטשט יאהר). And since tradition tells us that our fate is not really sealed until Hoshanah Rabba, the customary salutation for that day is “A gutten kvittl” (א גוט'ן קוויטל), “A good inscription.”

No matter what we say, the main thing is to wish each other a good, sweet year with all our heart – because that is what G‑d values the most.

Click here (before the holiday) to instantly email Shana Tova greeting cards to your family and friends!

Rabbi Menachem Posner serves as staff editor for
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Discussion (14)
September 10, 2014
For a non-Jewish new year Jan 1st - it simply wouldn't be in Hebrew - it isn't a matter of a different celebration date - it is an entirely different event. Just say Happy New Year. Same for a Jew - in my opinion-

I had the Safeway grocery clerk tell me the other day (I always end up in her line) that an item I asked after should be in by the New Year. . I initially thought she meant January - as when I first asked her for their Kosher section she thought it was some sort of BBQ item. So when I realized she meant my New Year - I got on such a smile - I realized that we were both educating each other but more importantly reaching out and valuing each other. That was truly a great moment I'll reflect on in weigh against my many shortcomings and as I go through reams of curled paper transgressions. To date that New Year wish remains the greatest Shana Tova! in a very long time.
Washington, DC
September 4, 2013
La Shana Tova. May the New Year bring all, inner peace and the desire to do good things and treat each other with kindness, especially those that are less fortunate than we are.
December 30, 2012
Does anyone know what's standard in Hebrew to say in lieu of , "Happy New Year" when one is refering to the Roman Calendar? (Jan. 1)
Does anyone know what's standard in Hebrew to say in lieu of , "Happy New Year" when one is refering to the Roman Calendar? (Jan. 1)
September 18, 2012
Shofar and Roshah Hashanah
I wish you all, dear friends at, team and readers, a very happy 5773!
Shanhah Tovah!
Irene Alhanati Cardillo
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
September 17, 2012
Dear Anonymous, Winchelsea, East Sussex, England
Wishing all, but you in particular, a happy new. It is wonderful that you can see your way through a rough time and bestow good wishes on others.
Madison, WI
September 16, 2012
Rosh Hashanah
I am at home alone after 2 weeks in hospital and having lost the use of my right leg. The pain killers prescribed are very strong and I am not my usual self mentally or physically. For those people not with friends or family as I am leshana tovah tikateiv veteichateim.
Winchelsea, East Sussex, England
September 14, 2012
Le Shana Tova
may the love and light experienced at Rosh Hashanah
be your guide into the new year.

may HaShem grant you inner peace, good health, serenity, wealth and a life of abundance.

“Le Shana Tova “
roger ganhes
Johannesburg , South Africa
October 21, 2010
May a new year bring peace, happiness, and good fortune.
Bellevue, Ky/USA
September 6, 2010
May the New Year bring us all closer to G-d.
Bronwyn Van Dam
Hobart, Australia
September 5, 2010
Leshana Tova
May we join hands as a nation and work together in the New year to foster peace, faith and love in our fellow men and women!
Rosetta Suttner
Hartbeespoort, South Africa
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