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Rosh Hashanah: Two-Day Jewish Holiday

Updated on April 27, 2019
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Margaret Minnicks has been writing for HubPages for a long time. She is an expert about a variety of subjects she writes about.

Rosh Hashanah

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

to

Friday, September 22, 2017

Different Spellings

There are several different spellings for the name of the Jewish New Year.

  • Rosh Hashanah
  • Rosh HaShanah
  • Roshashana
  • Rosh Hashanah
  • Other spellings

Traditions and Customs

Rosh Hashanah literally means "the head of the year" in the Hebrew language.

All Jews do not celebrate the occasion the same way. It depends on which type of Jew the family is.

  • Conservative Jews such as Orthodox usually observe the entire time of the holiday from the very beginning to the very end.
  • More liberal Jews might celebrate only part of the holiday such as on the first full day.

What happens during the time depends on the Jewish tradition that is followed. Here are some of the typical things that are observed on Rosh Hashanah.

  • Candles are lighted on both evenings.
  • Prayers are recited.
  • Families attend synagogue together.
  • People hear the shofar.
  • Pieces of bread are thrown into a river, lake or other bodies of water.
  • Candles are lighted on both evenings and people recite prayers and reflect on what has happened over the past year.
  • Many Jewish families attend synagogue together to celebrate the occasion.

During the service, people listen to the sounding of the shofar. A shofar is a hollowed-out ram's horn that is blown like a trumpet. Hearing the shofar is a tradition meant to wake the soul because it symbolizes repentance.

Some Jews observe a tradition called tashlicht. That means "casting off" in the Hebrew language. This is done when pieces of bread are thrown into a river, lake, r another body of water to symbolize the washing away of sins.

Photo of a shofar.
Photo of a shofar.

What is Eaten?

On Rosh Hashanah, Jews enjoy a festive meal together which consists of foods that have special meanings for the occasion. For instance, apples are dipped in honey signifying welcoming in a sweet new year. Eating the head of a fish represents the head of the year and a reminder to be the head and not the tail.

Pomegranates are eaten because they contain a lot of seeds. This food symbolizes being fruitful. According to the Reform tradition, a round sweet bread called challah is also served. That food represents the circle of life.

Food
Symbol
apples dipped in honey
to welcome a sweet new year
fish head
to be the head and not the tail
pomegranates
to be fruitful like the many seeds
round challah
represents the circle of life

Happy Rosh Hashanah to Jewish families.

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