For those of you who are not familiar with the Jewish New Year...
The Lowdown on Rosh HaShanah
At sunset this September 13th occurs one of the most important holidays of the Jewish calendar, Rosh HaShanah. The name of the holiday means “head of the year” in Hebrew and is considered the Jewish New Year. On this day we remember the creation of the world as the shofar summons all to prayer.
Sound the Trumpets!
Rosh HaShanah is also known as the Feast of Trumpets. This name comes from the Numbers 29:1, “On the first day of the seventh month you shall have a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a day for you to blow the trumpets ...”
The shofar is sounded to commemorate, to begin repentance and to symbolize the coming year. Four different types of notes are sounded a total of 100 times: tekiah, shevarim, teruah and tekiah gadolah. Each note has a different sound and length.
Put Your House in Order... Your Spiritual House
Rosh HaShanah seems like a celebratory party, not quite of the December 31st variety, but a fun time nevertheless. However, there is a very serious side to the holiday. It is a time for introspection and prayer. Rosh HaShanah begins the “Days of Awe” which culminate at Yom Kippur.
This is a time to reflect on all the sins and wrong doing you have done over the past year. It is also the time to reconcile these trespasses we have committed on others. It is very important to make things right by Yom Kippur. This is an crucial aspect of personal spiritual growth.
At the Very Least, Feast!
As will pretty much all Jewish celebrations Rosh HaShanah is a time for feasting with family and friends. There are a lot of delicious traditional foods! The traditional Shabbat and holiday bread called Challah is usually baked in a circle. This symbolizes the circle of life and the hope that we will have a world without end.
Apples dipped in honey are another delicious Rosh HaShanah delicacy. This is symbolic of the hope for a sweet year ahead to be filled with love, joy and success. Pomegranates are another New Year fruit. In eating this fruit we wish that our good deeds in the ensuing year will be as plentiful as the seeds found in the pomegranate.
One Day, Two Days? It's all about the moon.
Most observant Jews celebrate Rosh HaShanah for two days. This is because in Biblical times there was not a written calendar, all the holidays were determined by the phases of the moon. The officials who watched the night skies and proclaimed when the holiday was to occur were in Jerusalem. Those who lived outside of Jerusalem did not have the opportunity to learn the exact date of the holiday. Therefore, two days were celebrated for the holiday to be sure the New Year was observed on the correct day.