Jewish New Year 5783

“Shanah Tovah!” rent the air as people all across the globe began the celebrations to mark the New Year 5783 on the Jewish calendar. This is a shortened version of the full greeting, L’shanah tovah tikatev v’taihaem, this means May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.

The Jewish New Year, also known as Rosh Hashana began at sundown on Sunday, 25 September and will end at nightfall, Tuesday, 27 September 2022. According to the Jerusalem Post, “The holiday celebrates not only the Jewish New Year, but also the birth of the universe and beginning of the Days of Awe – 10 days of repentance and renewal that culminate in Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.”

The Jewish or Hebrew calendar is lunar based and Rosh Hashanah always falls on the first and second day of the month Tishrei. The celebrations are reflective and marked by prayers and family gatherings during that period. Prayers are recited in synagogues and the Shofar (a horn made from ram’s horn) is blown during intervals in the service. The sounding of the Shofar is very important as a call back to YHWH and a reminder to all Jews that God is their King.

Food is a very important of any celebration, right? Rosh Hashana is no different, furthermore food consumed is also symbolic of what is desired for the year ahead. The selections are representations of prayers for a sweet year. For instance, eating the head of fish, often followed by saying, “May we, this year, be at the head!” The Challa (Jewish bread) and apple is dipped in honey, dates and pomegranate are also part of the menu.

Prayers are woven intricately into the fabric of celebrating this special day and this is not only at the synagogue but during the meal as well. To the Ancient Jews apples possess healing qualities and the honey is for sweetness. There are different varieties of sweet treats sprinkled in for the same reason. Another custom that might be observed at this time is Tashlich, this means casting off. Here a piece of bread is thrown into a flowing body water as prayers are recited. The bread represents sins of the past year being swept away.

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