Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year – is one of the holiest days in the Jewish calendar.
The date of Rosh Hashanah varies annually, and individuals observe the holiday for varying durations, depending on their level of devotion.
This period is widely regarded among Jewish communities as a time dedicated to prayer, introspection, and repentance.
When is Rosh Hashanah?
This year, Rosh Hashanah starts at sunset on Sunday 15 September. Some Jewish people observe it for two days, and some for just one, meaning it either ends at sunset on Monday 16 September or Tuesday 17 September.
Rosh Hashanah begins on the first day of the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar – Tishrei – meaning the date varies each year in accordance with the lunar calendar. It almost always falls in September or October.
It might seem strange that the holiday is at the start of the seventh month of the calendar, rather than the first. That is because in the Torah Rosh Hashanah actually marks when God is said to have created the world, rather than the new calendar year.
What is Rosh Hashanah?
Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the Days of Awe, a 10-day period of introspection and repentance that ends with Yom Kippur, which is also known as the Day of Atonement.
Jewish tradition states that God judges all creatures during these 10 days, and decided which will live and which will die over the next year.
Those that God allows to live have their names written in the Book of Life, while others are condemned to death. Those God is not certain about have the 10 days after Rosh Hashanah to repent their sins.
This means many Jewish people see this time of year as one for prayer, introspection and repentance.
How is it celebrated?
Jewish people do not work on Rosh Hashanah, and those who are more devout will spend a lot of time at the synagogue.
One key tradition is the sounding of the shofar, which is a trumpet made from a ram’s horn. The instrument is seen as creating the sound of repentance.
Jewish families will share meals together in the evenings, with challah, apples and honey, brisket and honey cake among the traditional foods eaten.
The greeting “L’shana tovah” is used, which means “for a good year”.
Some will perform tashlich, which translates to “casting off”. People throw breadcrumbs into a river or stream to represent them casting off their sins
The name “Tashlikh” and the practice itself are derived from a Biblical passage (Micah 7:18–20): “You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”