The name literally means “Head of the Year,” and is observed for two days beginning on Tishrei 1, the first day of the Hebrew year. On this day it is customary to celebrate the creation of Adam and Eve. In so doing a person reflects on their dependence on their Creator and their relationship with Him.
This is the day to proclaim the Creator as King of the Universe.
How do we celebrate?
- The central observation of Rosh HaShanah is the sounding of the shofar, or ram’s horn, which is how the coronation of the king is announced. The wail of the Shofar is also a cry of repentance, to recall that this time is also the anniversary of man’s first sin and repentance.
- This time begins the 10 days of repentance, also known as the “Days of Awe,” that culminate in Yom Kippur.
The ram’s horn is used in commemoration of the binding of Isaac, and the ram that was caught in the thicket. This event also took place on Rosh Hashanah.
What do we eat?
It is customary to eat apples dipped in honey and sweet round challah with raisins to symbolize that you will have a sweet new year. Often heard is the blessing, “Leshanah tovah,” translated “Have a good new year.”
Prayers that we say:
Tashlich is a special prayer said on the banks of a body of water (an ocean, river, pond, etc.), in evocation of the verse, “And You shall cast their sins into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7:9
As with every major holiday, after kindling the candles and prayers, the kiddush is recited and a blessing on the challah is said.