Join The Jewish Learning Experience for special High Holidays explanatory services.
Rosh Hashanah, also known as the Jewish New Year, is one of the most important holidays in the Jewish calendar. It marks the beginning of the High Holy Days, a period of reflection, introspection, and spiritual renewal for Jewish people around the world.
Here’s a beginner-friendly explanation of Rosh Hashanah:
- New Year Celebration: Rosh Hashanah is celebrated as the Jewish New Year.
- Spiritual Significance: Rosh Hashanah is a time for self-reflection, repentance, and setting new intentions for the coming year. It’s a time to think about your actions from the past year, both positive and negative, and consider how you can grow as a person in the year ahead.
- Customs and Traditions:
- Prayer Services: During Rosh Hashanah, Jewish people attend special prayer services at synagogues. These services often include the sounding of the shofar, a ram’s horn trumpet, which carries a deep, stirring sound that serves as a wake-up call for the soul.
- Foods: Certain foods are eaten during Rosh Hashanah to symbolize various wishes for the upcoming year. For example, apples dipped in honey represent a sweet year ahead, and round challah (a type of bread) symbolizes the cyclical nature of life and the world.
- Tashlich: Some people participate in a custom called “Tashlich,” where they go to a body of water and symbolically cast off their sins or regrets from the past year.
- Greetings: People often greet each other with “Shanah Tovah,” which means “Happy New Year” in Hebrew.
- Days of Awe: Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the “Ten Days of Repentance,” also known as the “Days of Awe.” These ten days culminate in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which is a day of fasting, prayer, and seeking forgiveness from both God and fellow human beings.
- Themes of Judgment and Renewal: Rosh Hashanah is often referred to as the “Day of Judgment,” where it’s believed that God assesses people’s actions from the past year and decides their fate for the upcoming year. However, it’s also a time of hope and renewal, as people have the opportunity to repent and make positive changes.
In summary, Rosh Hashanah is a significant Jewish holiday that celebrates the start of a new spiritual year. It’s a time for self-reflection, prayer, and renewal, as well as an opportunity to connect with one’s faith, community, and values.