What is Rosh Hashanah?
Rosh Hashanah 2020 (5781) begins on the evening of Friday, September 18 and ends on the evening of Sunday, September 20.
WHAT IS ROSH HASHANAH?
L’Shanah Tovah! (That means Happy New Year in Hebrew!) Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve. So a pretty important day. But instead of drinking copious amounts of sparkling wine and going to the club (or falling asleep on the couch before midnight) like secular New Year, we have apples & honey and go to shul. But it's fun, I swear! Here's what you need to know.
Rosh Hashanah begins the High Holidays- the most important time of year to be a Jew! This ends on Yom Kippur (that's when we fast to repent for our sins.) Rosh Hashanah is pretty similar to secular New Year's in that we think about the past year, and how we can improve the next year. Instead of a ball dropping in Time's Square, we blow the shofar (ram's horn) as a call to repent.
WHAT IS A SHOFAR?
The shofar is a ram's horn that is played as a musical instrument to awaken people to the new year. In fact, the Hebrew Bible calls the holiday not Rosh Hashanah, but Yom Teruah, the day for sounding the shofar.
WHAT DO WE EAT?
Ah the all-important question. Most popular are apples dipped in honey, for a sweet New Year. Many people use fancy Apple & Honey Dishes because this tradition is so important. We also eat "new fruit" like pomegranate and round challah (it's the circle of life, cue the Lion King.) Some eat a fish head to symbolize moving forward. We'll go into some more food symbols below.
WHAT ARE SYMBOLIC ROSH HASHANAH FOODS?
Apples – hope and durability, often dipped in honey
Honey and other sweet foods for a sweet New Year
Round challah for the circle of life (cue The Lion King)
Pomegranate and other new fruits for newness. The many pomegranate arils also represent the plentiful year ahead!
Fish head– to symbolize the head of the year. We do not do this one. A cabbage head works here too!
Beets or spinach or leeks or squash or dates – to get rid of our enemies. A lot of foods symbolize this because we have a lot of enemies maybe?
Black-eyed peas or green beans – for a fruitful New Year
Carrots – more blessings, less evil
WHAT IS ON A ROSH HASHANAH SEDER PLATE?
Yes, Rosh Hashanah seder plate! Usually, we associate the seder plate with Passover, but it is customary to have some of the food symbols on a plate for Rosh Hashanah as well. Or you can serve some of the symbolic foods in other ways. The five food symbols on the plate are:
- Fenugreek, black-eyed peas or green beans
- Chard or beet greens or beets
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO CELEBRATE ROSH HASHANAH?
Since it's the new year, it's nice to think about some goals for the new year, reflect on the past year, and discuss what you are grateful for with friends and family.
New Year cards are traditional to send to friends and family to wish them a Happy (other) New Year!
And bonus points if you own your own shofar.
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