The Jewish New Year or Rosh Hashanah is celebrated on the 1st and 2nd days of the month of Tishrei in Hebrew or Jewish calendar. In Hebrew, the word "Rosh Hashanah" means "Head of the Year". Rosh Hashanah 2013 is New Year 5774 for the Jews.
When is Jewish New Year 5774?
In 2013, Jewish New Year or Rosh Hashanah 5774 starts from the sunset of September 16 and continues until the nightfall of September 18.
How Is Jewish New Year Or Rosh Hashanah Celebrated?
On Rosh Hashanah, people spend quite some time in synagogues. Read on to know about Jewish New Year celebrations.
Blowing the shofar:
The Jews blow the shofar or ram’s horn on both days of the New Year. The sound of the shofar reminds one of the trumpet blast during a king’s coronation by his people. It also indicates the Jews’ call to repentance. This is because Rosh Hashanah marks the anniversary of the day when man first committed sin and wanted to repent for it. The Jewish New Year represents the first of the ten days of repentance which then leads to Yom Kippur, another widely celebrated Jewish holiday.
Blessing each other:
On Jewish New Year, people bless each other by uttering the words – "Leshanah tovah tikateiv veteichateim". These words mean the following:
May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.
The Jews visit a river, lake, or sea and recite the Tashlich prayers in an effort to leave their sins behind into the water and free themselves off their wrong doings. The purpose is to start the new year afresh with blessings from the almighty.
The word, "Tashlich" means casting off. The Tashlich prayers are traditionally conducted on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. However, if the Jewish New Year 5774 falls on Shabbat (Saturday), then these prayers will be performed on the second day of this festive occasion.
On Rosh Hashanah, the Jews pray at night in addition to praying during daytime near a lake or a sea. They also recite the Kiddush (a type of blessing) while drinking wine before their special meals on Jewish New Year. The word ‘Kiddush" means sanctification. The Jews use a beautifully decorated goblet to hold the wine in an effort to purify the act of drinking wine.
Eating apples dipped in honey:
On Jewish New Year, people savor at least one piece of apple dipped in honey. This represents their desire to have a sweet and prosperous new year ahead. The Jews make sure that they have one new fruit, especially a seasonal fruit, on the 2nd night of Rosh Hashanah. The new fruit is savored only after candles are lighted and the Kiddush is over. Prior to eating the fruit, one should utter the following blessing:
Ba-ruch a-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam bore pri ha-etz.
The above line means the following:
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree.
Relishing challah dipped in honey: Once the Kiddish is over, the Jews follow the ritual of raising two challah loaves (or bread). Then they recite the blessing that they utter before savoring the new fruit. Next, they eat the challah by dipping it in honey.
Savoring special food on Jewish New Year: It is the tradition to avoid food which is sour or tart during Rosh Hashanah. The Jews are not allowed to eat nuts, as it is considered to be a sin. Sweet food items are mostly savored during this occasion. Aside from apples, the Jews eat pomegranates, thus reflecting their willingness to perform all good deeds during the new year. That’s because a pomegranate usually has juicy and delicious seeds.
The food menu on Jewish New Year 5774 will certainly include the head of a fish or a ram, as it happens every year. This reflects their desire to remain as the "Head of the Class".
The menu on Jewish New Year actually comprises food items, the names of which mean blessing and wealth. So, the Jews usually have a carrot dish. That’s because the Jewish word for carrot is Yiddish which means "to multiply".
Lighting up candles:
On Jewish New Year evening, women and girls light up candles and make sure that the lights burn for a certain period of time. For example, on the first night of Jewish New Year, candles are lighted for not more than 18 minutes before sunset. But on the second night, the Jews light candles right after nightfall. However, candles are not lighted on Shabbat.
Sending warm wishes and greetings:
Jewish New Year is the time when you convey your warmest greetings to your dear ones by sending beautiful Rosh Hashanah e-cards
. Your loved ones will surely appreciate your best wishes for a happy and prosperous new year.
This is how you may celebrate Jewish New Year 5774 with the hope and desire to make a new beginning that’s full of sweet and joyous moments.