What Is Rosh HaShanah?
Rosh HaShanah is the Jewish New Year and comes at the beginning of a 10-day period that ends with Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), a period known as the Jewish High Holy Days. Rosh HaShanah is a time for reflection and thinking about how to improve ourselves in the coming year.
When Is It?
Rosh HaShanah is on the first and second days of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Jewish calendar, which falls in autumn. Some Jews celebrate only one day; the discrepancy can be traced back to how the ancient Jews announced the beginning of the festival and various interpretations regarding the required length of the holiday’s observance.
What Do I Need to Celebrate Rosh HaShanah?
As one of the High Holy Days, Rosh HaShanah is traditionally celebrated by attending services in a synagogue or temple, though there are customs and ceremonies that are observed at home.
Here are some things to know about the festival:
Shanah Tovah The customary greeting of “Happy New Year!”
Tzedakah The practice of beginning the New Year by giving charitable gifts or doing charitable acts.
Holiday Meal Rosh HaShanah begins at sundown with a holiday meal that includes traditional blessings. A round challah is served to symbolize the cycle of years and seasons. Apples and honey are served to symbolize hopes for a sweet new year.
Shofar A ram’s horn that is blown like a trumpet during the Rosh HaShanah services and at the end of Yom Kippur. Sounding the shofar reminds us to look inward and strive to be our best selves in the coming year. The shofar has four different sounds:
- Tekiah One short blast
- Shvarim Three short blasts
- Teruah Nine short blasts
- Tekiah gedolah One long blast
Tashlich This Hebrew word means “to cast away.” It’s traditional to go to a body of water, such as a lake or river, on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh HaShanah for a ceremony to symbolically cast away the things we did wrong in the past year so we can start fresh in the new year.
Rosh HaShanah Activities
We express our hopes for a “sweet” new year by picking apples and dipping them in honey. Another way to celebrate at home is by baking such treats as honey-walnut cookies and honey apple cake.
Young children can learn more about the holiday through craft activities, such as painting pictures using cut apples to apply the paint, and making New Year’s cards and giving them to friends and family.
Still Have Questions?
Rosh Hashanah Blessings
Blessing Over the Candles
,בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלהֵֹינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו
.וְצִוָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶׁל יוֹם טוֹב
Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav, v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Yom Tov.
Blessed are You Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who has made us holy through God’s commandments, and commands us to light the holiday candles.
Blessing for Our Children
.יְבָרֶכְךָ יְיָ וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ. יָאֵר יְיָ פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וִיחֻנֶּךָּ. יִשָֹּא יְיָ פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וְיָשֵֹם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם
Y’varekh’kha Adonai v’yish’m’rekha. Ya’eir Adonai panav eilekha viy’khuneka. Yisa Adonai panav eilekha, v’yaseim l’kha shalom.
May God bless you and protect you. May God shine upon you and be gracious to you. May God always be with you and grant you peace.
Kiddush — Blessing Over the Wine
.בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלהֵֹינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָפֶן
Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh ha’olam, borei p’ree hagafen.
Blessed are You Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.
Shehekhiyanu — Blessing for Reaching This Special Occasion
.בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלהֵֹינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָֽנוּ וְקִיְּמָֽנוּ וְהִגִּיעָֽנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה
Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh ha’olam, shehekhiyanu v’kiymanu, v’higianu laz’man hazeh.
Blessed are You Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, for giving us life, for sustaining us and for enabling us to reach this season.
Blessing Over the Challah
.בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלהֵֹינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, הַמוֹצִיא לֶחֶם מִן הָאָרֶץ
Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh ha’olam, hamotzi lekhem min ha’aretz.
Blessed are You Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who causes bread to come forth from the earth.
Blessing Over the Apple
.בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלהֵֹינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָעֵץ
Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh ha’olam, borei p’ree haeitz.
Blessed are You Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree.