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How is Rosh Hashanah Observed?

How is Rosh Hashanah Observed?

An Overview of Rosh Hashanah's Traditions and Customs

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Click here for a listing of Rosh Hashanah's corresponding secular dates for the upcoming years.

The two-day festival of Rosh Hashanah is observed on the 1st and 2nd days of Tishrei.

In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means, literally, "Head of the Year," and as its name indicates, it is the beginning of the Jewish year. The anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, it is the birthday of mankind, highlighting the special relationship between G‑d and humanity.

The primary theme of the day is our acceptance of G‑d as our KingThe primary theme of the day is our acceptance of G‑d as our King. The Kabbalists teach that the renewal of G‑d's desire for the world, and thus the continued existence of the universe, is dependent upon this. We accept G‑d as our King, and G‑d is aroused, once again, with the desire to continue creating the world for one more year.

Much of the day is spent in synagogue. G‑d not only desires to have a world with people, G‑d wants an intimate relationship with each one of us. In addition to the collective aspects of Rosh Hashanah worship, each man and woman personally asks G‑d to accept the coronation, thus creating the bond of "We are Your people and You are our King."

The central observance of Rosh Hashanah is the sounding of the shofar, the ram's horn. The shofar is sounded on both days of Rosh Hashanah (unless the first day of the holiday falls on Shabbat, in which case we only sound the shofar on the second day). The sounding of the shofar represents, among other things, 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 will culminate in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Altogether, we listen to 100 shofar blasts over the course of the Rosh Hashanah service. Click here for more about the shofar.

Additional Rosh Hashanah observances include:

We eat a piece of apple dipped in honey to symbolize our desire for a sweet year, as well as many other special foods. All have special significance and symbolize sweetness, blessings, and abundance. Click here for more about the special Rosh Hashanah foods.

We bless one another with the words Leshanah tovah tikateiv veteichateim, "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year."

We leave our old shortcomings behind us, thus starting the new year with a clean slateWe go to a lake, river or to the sea and recite the Tashlich prayers, where we symbolically cast our sins into the water, in evocation of the verse, "And You shall cast their sins into the depths of the sea." We leave our old shortcomings behind us, thus starting the new year with a clean slate. Click here for more about Tashlich.

And as with every major Jewish holiday, women and girls light candles on each evening of Rosh Hashanah and recite the appropriate blessings. (Click here for candle-lighting times for your location.) After the prayers each night and morning, we recite Kiddush on wine, make a blessing over the challah, and enjoy a festive repast.

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Discussion (66)
September 12, 2013
Why is "o" replaced with a hyphen?
Lynn
brad pitt
September 8, 2013
re: comments on converts
yes, those who recite the Amidah(prayer) everyday will notice that there is a blessing for the " righteous proselytes" in the siddur .
A convert is accepted or turned by a Beit Din (in orthodoxy) after completing studies & practicing for 1 ~ 5 years, not just one person announcing "you're Jewish now" after a weekend course!
Anonymous
September 4, 2013
Rosh Hashana
There are so many beautiful messages here from people of many paths to The Holy One. May all people on Earth know peace and fellowship at this holy season. La Shana Tovah...
Richard A.
Florida
September 4, 2013
To Eric
The widespread custom is not to wear the kittle on Rosh Hashanah. However, in some congregations, the rabbi, chazzan, shofar blower, and other leaders do wear a kittle on Rosh Hashanah.
Menachem Posner
Montreal
September 3, 2013
Converting to judaism
According to the Jewish faith anyone who has converted to Judaism is as much a Jew as one born as a Jew and should be thought of as so. To reject a converted Jew or consider them "less Jewish" is definitely not taught in any information I have studied on the subject.
Cindy
Sarasota, FL
September 3, 2013
Wearing white on Rosh HaShanah
I know that we traditionally wear white (Kittel) in Shul on Yom Kippur. What is the Minhag and Halacha surrounding wearing white on Rosh Hashanah? (if there is one). If there is a Talmudic reference please cite it.
Eric
Burke, VA
September 2, 2013
A Wild Olive Branch Grafted into The Jewish Tree Of Life
Leshanah tovah tikateiv veteichateim, 'May you be inscribed & sealed for a good year' to all my dear jewish friends and supporters of the State of Israel. I celebrate with you. For the Light of Eternal Life was first lit in you. Shalom.
Albert Johnson
USA., TN.
August 23, 2013
To Answer Susan, CA
The best response is most always one of tolerance and compassion. What one fears or doesn't entirely understand, one usually opposes. The best we can do is teach and act by example, just as the first sentence in your response began.
Beth
St. Augustine, FL
chabadsaugustine.com
August 7, 2013
To answer Anonymous Leeds, Yorkshire
Perhaps you would also think Abraham was not a Jew, either, for he wasn't born a Jew. Your understanding of Judaism is limited.
Susan
CA
September 17, 2012
Greetings from an open minded Worshiper
I am not of the Jewish faith, but that does not mean I cannot sincerely say " Leshanah tovah tikateiv veteichateim, "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year" to everyone out there! Happy New Year to you all !! Spread the goodwill to everyone, friends and unknown persons alike!
Laura Gothard
Tucson, AZ
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