Rosh Hashanah: The Basics

It’s Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.  It is a time of celebration and reflection.  I’m here to give you all the basics, so that you can feel all caught up on the holiday and know how to respond when someone says “Shana Tova”.

What is Rosh Hashanah?

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. It is one of our major holidays, the first for the High Holidays (the next is Yom Kippur). Rosh Hashanah is in the Torah and is celebrated as the anniversary of the creation of the world. As I write this it is 2019 and we are celebrating the Jewish new year of 5780.

How do we celebrate Rosh Hashanah?

We celebrate by wish each other “Happy New Year”. The traditional greeting is “Shana Tova,” “L’Shana Tova,” or “Shana Tova Umetuka“. If someone wishes you a “Shana Tova,” you can say it back, say “thank you,” “same to you,” or “happy new year”.

Many families often send Rosh Hashanah cards to wish family and friends a Happy New Year. This makes for a great crafting opportunity with the kids too!

Many people celebrate by attending High Holiday services. If you’re interested in doing this, I’d recommend contacting a congregation in your area. High Holiday services can get packed, so many congregations will ask for a donation in exchange for tickets. If you are in your 20’s & 30’s many congregations also have special programs just for you. Most congregations also have some sort of children’s service or babysitting service to help you out.

If you’d can’t make it to services because you have little ones at home or you’d like to experience them in a low key fashion, there are many congregations that broadcast their services online.

While at services you with hear the sound of the shofar. The shofar is a ram’s horn that is blown during several different parts of the High Holidays services. The loud noise of the shofar is supposed to awaken us from our everyday and bring us to be present in the moment, giving us time to think about the previous year and make plans for the year to come.

What do we eat on Rosh Hashanah?

We always have a lot of symbolism in our tradition and Rosh Hashanah foods are no exception. The greeting “Shana Tova Umetuka” means have a sweet new year and so traditionally we incorporate honey into many of our dishes. We dip apples in honey and make honey cake. We also eat round challahs this time of year. They symbolize the way the year goes around and here we are back the new year again.

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9 thoughts on “Rosh Hashanah: The Basics”

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