Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is a two-day holiday. The mornings are spent in the synagogue praying, asking G‑d to grant us a sweet and prosperous year, and listening to the blasts of the shofar (ram’s horn). Here are some more customs that complete the Rosh Hashanah experience.
Holiday candles are lit on both nights, and kiddush and sumptuous holiday meals are enjoyed on both nights and both days of Rosh Hashanah. We don’t go to work, drive, write, or switch on or off electric devices. We are permitted to cook and to carry outdoors (except on Shabbat).
Many of the customs are symbolic of the type of year we wish forKeep It Sweet:
Many of the Rosh Hashanah customs are symbolic of the type of year we hope will come our way. On the first night of Rosh Hashanah, we eat a slice of sweet apple dipped in honey. We taste a little from the head of a fish, asking G‑d that this year we be “the head.” We eat pomegranates, with a prayer that this year we will be full of mitzvot as a pomegranate is full of seeds. And for good measure, during all Rosh Hashanah meals, the challah (bread) is dipped in honey. If symbolism isn’t enough, we verbalize our wishes, wishing family and friends a shanah tovah, a wonderful and sweet year.
On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, there is an age-old tradition to go to a body of water that contains live fish and perform the Tashlich ceremony. The word tashlich means “cast away.” We say a little prayer and shake the corners of our clothes, asking G‑d to cast away our sins. Water is a metaphor for kindness, and the lidless eyes of the fish symbolize our hope that G‑d’s watchful eye should always be upon us. If the first day of Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbat, Tashlich is done on the second day. Missed this on Rosh Hashanah? You still have until the last day of the holiday of Sukkot.
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