Have A Sweet New Year

Carter Segal

At the sundown of September 9th, the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah began. This occasion marks the start of a new year on the Jewish calendar, and is filled with symbolic rituals and traditions. It also is the first of ten days of repenting your sins. On the tenth day, the holiday of Yom Kippur was celebrated. Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah are known as the two high holidays on the Jewish calendar.

Conservative and Orthodox Jews celebrate Rosh Hashanah for two days, while Refined, or Reform, observers celebrate for only one day. On the date of the high holidays, families will attend Synagogue services in the morning or at night. At these services we pray to G-d and those close to us to forgive our sins for the past year and contemplate how to prevent them from happening again. We also greet each other with the phrase  “L’shanah tovah”, which means ““May you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for a good year.””. Another way we repent our sins is by throwing pieces of bread or stones into the ocean to symbolize throwing away our sins and our past mistakes.

Another custom that is carried out in temple is the blowing of the Shofar. The Shofar is a horn/trumpet that is typically made from the horn of a Ram. The Rabbis will typically blow four sequences of blow lengths and tones into the Shofar. The call “Te’Ki’Ah” consists of one long blast and symbolizes a call of worship. The call “Sh’Va’Rim” includes three medium length blows and represents the breaking of our past sins. The call “Te’Ru’Ah” has nine short, rapid blows which means victory in war. The final, and most dramatic call is called “Te’Ki’Ah Ge’Do’Lah”. This was the ancient call that was blown when the King arrived, or even to thank G-d for his mercy.

On the night of Rosh Hashanah, families will have a large dinner with relatives. Over wine, blessings are said for the food and for a successful new year. One of the more common Jewish foods is a round Challah, a type of plaited bread typically baked with raisins or chocolate chips. Challah is a staple of Jewish food and is baked for most holidays and occasions.

Another food commonly eaten during Rosh Hashanah is apples and honey, as well as other sweet honey-based foods. This is meant to signify the beginning of a sweet new year. Along with this, people are encouraged to try eating fruits that they have never had before to represent trying new things in their life for the upcoming year. Some exotic fruits include soursop, jackfruit, and monstera fruit.

Another less common fruits eaten during Rosh Hashanah is Pomegranate. It is consumed partly because it is unique, but also because of its large quantity of seeds. These seeds are meant to represent the many good deeds that you will do in the new year.

The final staple of a Rosh Hashanah dinner is the head of a fish. Rosh Hashanah is translated into English as the “head” of the year, so we eat the head of a fish. Another reason we eat fish is because fish are known to reproduce a lot, and is viewed as a sign of abundance.

Although we do not work during the new year, we are supposed to get haircuts and new clothes in order to create our “new” selves for the upcoming year. The clothes bought are traditionally white because white is known as a pure color. Another custom during the high holiday is to sleep and nap less, because a day as important as the Jewish New Year should not be wasted.

Ten days after the celebration of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur is observed. This holiday is the Day of Atonement, where the faithful repent their sins in order to change for the better for the newly arrived year. On Yom Kippur, we fast in order to encourage our bodies to slow down so our minds can focus on inner cleansing. Although it’s tough to not eat for a day, the reward for atonement is a break fast dinner, where we celebrate with family. This is the Jewish year 5779, according to the Hebrew calendar; may you all be inscribed in this year’s Book of Life.