Rosh Hashanah is a Jewish holiday that not many non-Jewish people understand. The first thing to know is that Rosh Hashanah is considered the Jewish new year. In Hebrew Rosh Hashanah translates into “head of the year.” It is also considered the first of the High Holidays. For Jewish people, this is the new year for people, animals and contracts.
Rosh Hashanah occurs 163 days after the first day of Passover. In the Gregorian calendar, the earliest day Rosh Hashanah can be celebrated is September 5. This will happen in 2013. This year the holiday begins on the evening of September 10.
Rosh Hashanah is an observance that starts at sundown. There are differing ways of celebrating and here are a few tips to help you celebrate.
Apples and Honey
Typically this time of year it’s time to eat sweeter foods, in order to celebrate the blessings bestowed upon you. The most popular are apple and honey. There are many ways to eat apples and honey, including baking and plain. If you have young children, there are a few ways you can teach them. For instance, have a honey-tasting activity. Use pieces of apple to sample different kinds of honey. Or bake sugar cookies and use a cookie cutter to shape them into apples.
Other food for this time of year can include a fish head, which symbolizes the “head of the year.” Round challah is also served.
It is important at this time of the year to visit the synagogue. People dress very well, as this is an important time of the year. There are many additions to the service, including longer prayers and the blowing of the shofar.
The shofar is a curved horn from a Kosher animal. Most often it is a ram. This is a commandment in the Torah that directly references the holiday. The shofar is meant to represent reflection and awakening. There are four different types of sounds:
Tekiah: One blast, a few seconds long, that ends abruptly.
Shevarim: Three one-to-two-second short blasts that rapidly scoop from low to high in pitch.
Teruah: Nine short, rapid blasts.
Tekiah Gedolah: This is one long, continuous blast, traditionally held for nine counts, but in progressive communities it is often held as long as possible.