Part 2 of 2: Symbols and Customs
Celebrating the New Year isn’t the only theme of Rosh Hashanah; it is also:
- A day of Judgment because it is believed by Jews that on Rosh Hashanah it will be decided whether they will live or die in the coming year, their names will be written in the Holy Book, and 10 days later on ‘Yom Kippur’ the book will be sealed.
- A Day of Remembrance– Recalling the biblical account of Abraham and Isaac, Jews are reminded that in order to attain God’s mercy we must submit to him first.
CUSTOMS AND SYMBOLS:
- On both days of Rosh Hashanah, the ‘Shofar’ must be blown 100 times each day. The Shofar is an important symbol of Rosh Hashanah. It is an instrument which is made out of a Ram’s horn.
- It is customary to wear white apparel on Rosh Hashanah as it symbolizes purity. In all synagogues, curtains and covers are also changed to white.
- A custom ritual called ‘Tashlich’ is performed on the first day (second day if it falls on Shabbat). Most Jews go to the bank of a river or a lake; some even go to the beach, recite certain prayers and symbolically cast their sins into the water.
- On the second night of Rosh Hashanah it is customary to eat fruit, usually fruit that is new to the season. Apples dipped in honey are most common and especially significant for Rosh Hashanah as it symbolizes hope for a sweeter New Year.
- The customary greeting during Rosh Hashanah is ‘L’shanah Tovah’ which means ‘Have a good year’, People also greet each other by saying ‘L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu’ and ‘Gemar Chatimah Tovah’ which means ‘May you be inscribed in the book of life for a good year’ and ‘May your final sealing in the book of life be good‘ respectively. Many People also send New Year’s greetings cards on Rosh Hashanah a few days before the holiday begins.
Part 1 of 2: Rosh Hashanah
Rosh Hashanah is a Hebrew word which translates into ‘Head of the Year’. It is the Jewish New Year which is celebrated on the first 2 days of the month of ‘Tishrei’. Rosh Hashanah occurs 10 days before the feast of ‘Yom Kippur’ and is the first of the ‘High Holy Days’. According to the Jewish religion it is believed that God created the world in the month of ‘Tishrei’ and therefore Rosh Hashanah is celebrated as the Birth of the World.
People greet one another on Rosh Hashanah by saying ‘L’shanah Tovah’ which means ‘Have a good year’, ‘L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu’ meaning ‘May you be inscribed in the book of life for a good year’ and ‘Gemar Chatimah Tovah’ which means ‘May your final sealing in the book of life be good’.
This year Rosh Hashanah celebrations begin on the 4th of September. According to Judaism, during the ‘High Holy days’ God decides who is to live or die in the coming year, as a result Jews begin to examine their lives and repent for any sins they have committed in the past. Jews believe that on Rosh Hashanah the names are written in the Holy book and 10 days later on ‘Yom Kippur’ the book is sealed.
Rosh Hashanah is a Holiday full of Hope, compassion and forgiveness, and each one of us must strive to be a better person and to strengthen the bonds of our society. We can begin by greeting one another ‘Shalom Aleichem’ and by spreading Love and Happiness.