Jewish all around the world is celebrating Rosh Hashanah starting on the sunset of 29 September 2019. Rosh Hashanah, which literally means “beginning (also head) [of] the year”, is a Jewish New Year. The biblical name for this holiday is Yom Teruah, literally “day [of] shouting or blasting”. Rosh Hashanah is the first of the Jewish High Holy Days or Yamim Nora’im, which occur in the early autumn of the Northern Hemisphere.
Rosh Hashanah is a two-day celebration which begins on the first day of Tishrei, which is the first month of the Jewish civil year but the seventh month of the ecclesiastical year. It marks the beginning of the year, according to the teachings of Judaism, because it is the traditional anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman according to the Hebrew Bible, and the inauguration of humanity’s role in God’s world.
The evening before Rosh Hashanah day is known as Erev Rosh Hashanah (“Rosh Hashanah eve”). Some communities perform Hatarat nedarim (a nullification of vows) after the morning prayer services during the morning on the 29th of the Hebrew month of Elul, which ends at sundown, when Erev Rosh Hashanah commences. Many Orthodox Jewish men will also immerse in a mikveh, a bath used for the purpose of ritual immersion in Judaism to achieve ritual purity, in honor of the coming day.
Rosh Hashanah is celebrated by sounding the shofar (a hollowed-out ram’s horn), but if Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbat, the Judaism’s day of rest and seventh day of the week, the shofar will not be blown. Rosh Hashanah is also celebrated by attending synagogue services and reciting special liturgy about teshuva, as well as enjoying festive meals. Eating symbolic foods is now a tradition, such as apples dipped in honey, hoping to evoke a sweet new year. Other symbolic foods are head of a fish, dates, pomegranates, black-eyed peas, pumpkin-filled pastries called rodanchas, leek fritters called keftedes de prasa. or beets.
On the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah, the ritual of tashlikh is performed. Prayers are recited near natural flowing water, and one’s sins are symbolically casted into the water. Many also have the custom to throw bread or pebbles into the water, to symbolize the “casting off” of sins. During Rosh Hashanah, Jewish people will also reflect on their pasts and contemplate their futures.
If you do not celebrate Rosh Hashanah, you could still share the spirit by wishing your Jewish friends or colleagues a good and blessed year to come. Or by having a reflection on your own past and contemplate on what to be done for your future.
How about you? Tell us your favorite Rosh Hashanah activity, or share your most memorable Rosh Hashanah celebration!