Shanah Tova and Happy New Year!

The Fall Holidays are a time of celebration and renewal, of introspection and repentance, of giving and receiving forgiveness, of family and friends and being connected to the local and worldwide Jewish community. We take time to enjoy the celebrations while remembering the true importance of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur — that we all make mistakes but can take time to correct them and ask for forgiveness. How wonderful when you can say, “I am sorry,” and hear someone answer, “I forgive you.”

Tap below to hear the sounds of the Shofar

Click below to hear the sounds of the Shofar

Tekiah
תק’עה

Shevarim
שבר’ם

Teruah
תרועה

Tekiah Gedolah
תק’עה גדולה

Rosh Hashanah

ראש השנה

räsh-(h)ə-ˈshä-nə –

The “Head of the Year” begins the Ten Days of Atonement. Also known as Yom Teruah, the Day of Sounding the Shofar; Yom Hazikaron, the Day of Remembering; and Yom Hadin, the Day of Judgement.

Yom Kippur

יום כפור

yōm-ki-ˈpu̇r –

A day of repentance when Jews everywhere look to be sealed in the Book of Life. The day carries a special power to cleanse the mistakes of the Jewish people, both individually and collectively.

Start the New Year Right

Here’s a list of ritual items to welcome in the Jewish year.
Mouse over each item to learn more.

Sweet Challah and Challah Cover

For Rosh Hashanah, we traditionally eat a round challah with raisins baked in it. The round shape symbolizes the cycle of life, which we are highly aware at this time. The raisins symbolize sweetness for the new year ahead. To make it even sweeter, we dip the challah in honey.

Sweet Challah and Challah Cover

For Rosh Hashanah, we traditionally eat a round challah with raisins baked in it. The round shape symbolizes the cycle of life, which we are highly aware at this time. The raisins symbolize sweetness for the new year ahead. To make it even sweeter, we dip the challah in honey.

Apples and Honey

We dip apples in honey to signify our wish for a sweet new year. The apple, in addition to being a primary fruit of the season, symbolizes the Shechinah, the Divine Presence, which is often referred to as an apple orchard in kabbalistic literature. The apple also recalls the initial understanding of right and wrong in the Garden of Eden and reminds us that we have the choice to choose between the two.

Apples and Honey

We dip apples in honey to signify our wish for a sweet new year. The apple, in addition to being a primary fruit of the season, symbolizes the Shechinah, the Divine Presence, which is often referred to as an apple orchard in kabbalistic literature. The apple also recalls the initial understanding of right and wrong in the Garden of Eden and reminds us that we have the choice to choose between the two.

Honey Cake and Other Sweets

Honey cake and other sweet treats are eaten at our festive Rosh Hashanah meals to symbolize our wish for a sweet new year.

Honey Cake and Other Sweets

Honey cake and other sweet treats are eaten at our festive Rosh Hashanah meals to symbolize our wish for a sweet new year.

Candles and Candle Sticks

Candles are lit before sunset to usher in the holiday, and beautiful candle sticks visually and spiritually enhance the mitzvah of lighting the candles.

Candles and Candle Sticks

Candles are lit before sunset to usher in the holiday, and beautiful candle sticks visually and spiritually enhance the mitzvah of lighting the candles.

Kiddush Cup and Wine or Grape Juice

We sanctify the holiday by reciting kiddush over wine or grape juice.

Kiddush Cup and Wine or Grape Juice

We sanctify the holiday by reciting kiddush over wine or grape juice.

A Machzor, High Holiday Prayer Book

A special prayer book is used on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur for the services we complete on those days and includes piyyutim, liturgical poems.

A Machzor, High Holiday Prayer Book

A special prayer book is used on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur for the services we complete on those days and includes piyyutim, liturgical poems.

A Special First Fruit

A round fruit, not yet eaten that season, is tasted on the second night of Rosh Hashanah to make sure that the second day of the holiday has something new about it so that we can say the Shehechiyanu, a prayer of thanksgiving thanksgiving for a special or new experience.

A Special First Fruit

A round fruit, not yet eaten that season, is tasted on the second night of Rosh Hashanah to make sure that the second day of the holiday has something new about it so that we can say the Shehechiyanu, a prayer of thanksgiving thanksgiving for a special or new experience.

White Table Cloth

The color white traditionally symbolizing purity and new beginnings, so it’s fitting to set our new year’s table with linens that signify a fresh start.

White Table Cloth

The color white traditionally symbolizing purity and new beginnings, so it’s fitting to set our new year’s table with linens that signify a fresh start.

Sneakers

In addition to fasting on Yom Kippur, there are several things we abstain from, which include but are not limited to bathing, using perfume or cologne and wearing leather shoes. Thus, non-leather sneakers have become the Yom Kippur footwear of choice in many Jewish communities.

Sneakers

In addition to fasting on Yom Kippur, there are several things we abstain from, which include but are not limited to bathing, using perfume or cologne and wearing leather shoes. Thus, non-leather sneakers have become the Yom Kippur footwear of choice in many Jewish communities.

What’s for dinner?

Sure, there are apples dipped in honey, round challah and honey cake, but beyond all the treats that symbolize a sweet new year, there are many other foods that take on a spiritual meaning during the High Holidays. Tap below to see a few foods you can incorporate into your holiday meals this year.Click below to see a few foods you can incorporate into your holiday meals this year.

  • Squash, Pumpkins and Gourds

    The word for squash, kera, is phonetically related to the Hebrew words to “to rip/tear” and “to read.” We hope that any bad things we have done will be ripped from G-d’s book. And we say, “May You tear up our negative judgement,” or “May You read our good merits.”

  • Pomegranate

    Every pomegranate, it is said, has exactly 613 seeds, precisely the number of mitzvot. As we eat this fruit, we pray that the coming year will be filled with as many good deeds as the pomegranate has seeds. We say, “In the coming year, may we be rich and replete with acts inspired by religion and piety as this pomegranate is rich and replete with seeds.”

  • Leeks

    In Aramaic, the word for leeks is karsi, which sounds like yikarsu, the word for “cut off” or “destroy.” We eat leeks in hopes that our misdeeds and spiritual enemies will be cut down.

  • Dates

    Tamarim, or dates, sounds like the Hebrew word sheyitamu, which means “May they be consumed.” Guess who we wish to be consumed? You got it, our enemies. But in English speaking countries we also eat dates as a way to say, “May we date the new year as a beginning of happiness and blessing and peace for all people.”

  • Beets

    In Aramaic, the word for beet is silka similar to the Hebrew word salak, which means to “go away.” We eat beets to express our hope that our enemies will disappear.

  • Sheep or Fish Head

    Rosh Hashanah literally means “head of the year.” The sheep or fish head symbolizes the hope that each of us will be at the head of whatever we do, rather than at the tail end.

  • Carrots

    For Sephardic Jews, carrots are symbolic of the phrase yikaretu oyveychem, which means “May your enemies be cut down.” We ask that those who wish bad things for us do not get their wish. For Ashkenazi Jews, carrots symbolize the Yiddish word merren, which means “more.” We want more of all the good things in life — more health, more happiness, more success.

Get punny!

When planning your Rosh Hashanah menu, get creative and develop your own English puns. You might try peas in hopes of increased peace. Get it? Or maybe your salad says “Lettuce find happiness in this new year.” And don’t forget to say “Olive you” to friends and family. Get family and friends involved and have fun creating your own puns and building a menu around your newly symbolic foods.

Tradition

Time spent in prayer and festive family meals are often what first come to mind when thinking about the High Holidays. But there are many traditions that bring meaning to this auspicious time of year. Consider taking on a new family tradition, or if you already practice one of the traditions suggested below, think about inviting friends and other family members to join you!

Tashlich

Tashlich is the service when we symbolically cast our sins into a running body of water in hopes that the water will carry our sins away. The practice is based on a verse from the book of the Prophet Michah that says, “And thou wilt cast all your sins into the depths of the sea.”

Kaparot

Kaparot is a ritual done by taking a live chicken (don’t worry, you can also use money) and waving it around your head three times. The chicken is then slaughtered and given to charity, or if you go with the money option, the money is donated. While swinging the chicken (or money) above your head, say “This is my exchange, this is my substitute, this is my atonement. This chicken is going to die (or this money is going to be given away), but I am going to a good, long life and to peace.”

Tshuvah Tracker

Doing tshuvah, a word often translated to “repentance” but literally meaning “return” is something we focus on in the month of Elul before the holidays actually begin in Tishrei. As a family, sit and and make a plan of ways to make the New Year better. Asking the following questions is a great way to start thinking about self improvement for the year to come: What have I done wrong? What do I need to apologize for? What can I change for the better?

Wearing White

White is a symbol of purity, cleanliness and new beginnings. Because of this symbolism, many Jews wear white clothing during Rosh Hashanah. Some people wear a kittle, a white robe that is similar to a Jewish burial shroud and reminds us of our mortality. Another explanation for wearing white is that it emulates the ministering angels that surround us during this time.

Shana tova!

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