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Rosh Hashanah

The Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah (lit. "Head of the Year"), is observed on the first and second days of Tishrei, this year beginning on September 25, 2022, at sundown until nightfall on September 27. Rosh Hashanah is the anniversary of the creation of mankind, highlighting the special relationship between G-d and humanity.

We anticipate a blessed year by engaging in Teshuvah (soul-searching), Tefilah (prayers) and Tzedakah (supporting our poorest brothers and sisters). Since 1788 the time-honored way of giving tzedakah directly to the neediest is through Colel Chabad. (You can do so by clicking here).

Accepting G-d as our King

On Rosh Hashanah we affirm G-d as our King, thereby renewing G-d's desire for the world and the continued existence of the universe for the coming year.

The central observance of Rosh Hashanah is the sounding of the shofar, the ram’s horn.

The blowing of the shofar represents the trumpet blast that is sounded at a king’s coronation. Its plaintive cry also serves as a call to repentance.

Additional Rosh Hashanah observances

We eat a piece of apple dipped in honey to symbolize our desire for a sweet year, as well as other dishes symbolic of sweetness, blessings and abundance. We bless one another with the words Leshanah tovah tikateiv veteichateim, "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year."

Rosh Hashanah Eve Meal

Kiddush

Before starting the Rosh Hashanah meal, we sanctify the holiday by reciting the kiddush over a cup of wine or grape juice.

New Fruit

On the second night of Rosh Hashanah a seasonal fruit, which we have not yet tasted since its season began, should be present on the table when the holiday candles are kindled and during the kiddush. While reciting the Shehecheyanu blessing at candle-lighting and after the kiddush, one should have in mind the new fruit. This fruit is eaten following the kiddush, before washing for bread.

Challah in Honey

Immediately following the kiddush (and on the second night, the eating of the new fruit), we perform the ritual washing for bread. When everyone has returned to the table, we raise the two challah loaves and recite the Hamotzi blessing: Ba-ruch atah A-do-nay, E-lo-hei-nu Melech Ha-Olam, hamotzi le-chem min ha-are-tz. [Blessed are You, Lord, our G-d, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.] Cut the challah, dip it in honey (some also dip it in salt), and have a bite.

Symbolic Foods

On the first night of Rosh Hashanah, after eating the challah with honey, it is customary to eat several foods which symbolize the type of year we wish to have:

We dip a piece of sweet apple into honey. Before eating it we say: Ba-ruch a-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam bore pri ha-etz. [Blessed are You, Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree.] Ye-hi ratzon she-ti-cha-desh alei-nu shanah tovah u-m'tu-kah. [May it be Your will to renew for us a good and sweet year].

A head of a fish, ram, or other kosher animal, is served. This symbolizes our desire to be at the "head of the class" this year.

A pomegranate is eaten, symbolizing our wish to have a year full of mitzvot and good deeds, just as a pomegranate is filled with luscious seeds.

Throughout the meal, it is customary to also eat foods whose names in the vernacular allude to blessing and prosperity. For example, a carrot dish, because in Yiddish the word for carrots, meren, means to multiply.

Rosh Hashanah Cuisine

On Rosh Hashanah it is customary not to eat foods which are sour or tart (the gefilte fish will have to do without the horseradish...). Instead, the focus is on sweet foods, symbolizing our desire to have a sweet year, blessings and abundance. It is also customary not to eat nuts on Rosh Hashanah, as the numerical value of the Hebrew word for nuts ("egoz") is the same as the Hebrew word for sin ("chet"). Of course, the opposite of sin is mitzvah -- especially the mitzvah of tzedakah which is customary before Rosh Hashanaha and throughout the period of the High Holy Days.

(You can give your tzedakah through Colel Chabad right now by clicking here)