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What Is Rosh Hashanah?

What Is Rosh Hashanah?

The anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, a day of judgment and coronation, the sounding of the shofar . . .


The festival of Rosh Hashanah—the name means Head of the Year—is observed for two days beginning on 1 Tishrei, the first day of the Jewish year. It is the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, and their first actions toward the realization of mankind’s role in G‑d’s world.

Rosh Hashanah thus emphasizes the special relationship between G‑d and humanity: our dependence upon G‑d as our creator and sustainer, and G‑d’s dependence upon us as the ones who make His presence known and felt in His world. Each year on Rosh Hashanah, “all inhabitants of the world pass before G‑d like a flock of sheep,” and it is decreed in the heavenly court “who shall live, and who shall die . . . who shall be impoverished, and who shall be enriched; who shall fall and who shall rise.” But this is also the day we proclaim G‑d King of the Universe. The Kabbalists teach that the continued existence of the universe is dependent upon the renewal of the divine desire for a world when we accept G‑d’s kingship each year on Rosh Hashanah.

The central observance of Rosh Hashanah is the sounding of the shofar, the ram’s horn, which also represents the trumpet blast of a people’s coronation of their king. The cry of the shofar is also a call to repentance, for Rosh Hashanah is also the anniversary of man’s first sin and his repentance thereof, and serves as the first of the “Ten Days of Repentance” which culminate in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Another significance of the shofar is to recall the Binding of Isaac which also occurred on Rosh Hashanah, in which a ram took Isaac’s place as an offering to G‑d; we evoke Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice his son, and plead that the merit of his deed should stand by us as we pray for a year of life, health and prosperity. Altogether, we listen to one hundred shofar blasts over the course of the Rosh Hashanah services.

Additional Rosh Hashanah observances include: a) Eating a piece of apple dipped in honey, to symbolize our desire for a sweet year, and other special foods symbolic of the new year’s blessings. b) Blessing one another with the words “Leshanah tovah tikateiv veteichateim,” “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.” c) Tashlich, a special prayer said near a body of water (an ocean, river, pond, etc.), in evocation of the verse, “And You shall cast their sins into the depths of the sea.” And as with every major Jewish holiday, after candlelighting and prayers we recite kiddush and make a blessing on the challah.

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Discussion (157)
January 4, 2015
To Anonymous
We are currently in the year 5775. Staff
December 30, 2014
In what year is the Jewish calendar now?
December 11, 2014
I think this is great for the project I am doing. Great info.
September 26, 2014
Wow! Who else in civilization has remembered a holy event for about 6000 years? Thank you from a Christian to the Jews. Why are some Jews not on board? Pity!
Pam Shumway
South Carolina
September 26, 2014
very helpful for homework
September 25, 2014
Not completely spelling out the name of G-d has many meanings, one derived from the Hebrew omission of vowels, another to show respect for the utter holiness of G-d, and another asa way to remind people of the unknowability of G-d through the human intellect. G-d may be experienced in a relationship, as G-d is in Scripture and in prayer. And the concept of G-d can be discussed and explicated, but G-d is not knowable by the human intellect.
Rhode Island
September 24, 2014
What do you say to someone celebrating Rosh Hashanah, Happy Rosh Hashanah or is there a special greeting or blessing?
September 24, 2014
Peace of Jerusalem
I pray for the peace of Jerusalem during these sacred times and and decree according to Isaiah 61:7 that a double portion of God's blessings is here for us and the Jewish people like never before! Get ready for your blessings.
Pearnel Henry
September 23, 2014
thats a lot to know, understand and remember,wow, i thought it was only new years celebration! i wish all my jewish and israelien friends a wonderful Rosh Hashanah YOU are my heroes forever
September 20, 2014
For those of you who are wondering why most posters do not spell out the three letter name of our Lord, it is based on the traditional practice in Jewish law of giving G-d's name a high degree of respect and reverence. G-d's name is not written in a place where it may be discarded or erased. Treating His name with reverence is a way to show respect. So even though it's used in a posting or email, we retain the respect and reverence by using the spelling 'G-d.' I hope this helps you understand.

Yes, wonderful, yet G-d is not just a He. He and She are still worthy of deep respect and reverence.
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