The Jewish New Year falls on the first two days of the seventh month on the Jewish calendar, called Tishrei. This year, those dates correspond to September 25-26. The Biblical description of this holiday, identified as the Festival of Trumpets, is found in Leviticus 23:23-25.
The LORD said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Do no regular work, but present a food offering to the LORD.’”
Rabbinical tradition associates Rosh HaShanah (“First of the Year” in Hebrew) with the anniversary of the creation of the world, and as the official Sabbath of the year. It begins 10 days of serious introspection, repentance, and spiritual cleansing before the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur.
On these two days, businesses in Israel will be closed as families spend time together observing rituals that go back thousands of years. Special prayers are said in synagogue and the shofar (ram’s horn) is blown to remind the people of the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai and God’s covenant with the Jewish people. Families often walk to a river or creek and empty their pockets into the flowing water, symbolic of casting away their sins.
Almost every Jewish household in Israel will partake of a special meal that includes apples and honey (for a sweet new year), pomegranate (for a plentiful new year), a fish head (for a year “ahead”), and a circular loaf of challah bread (symbolizing eternity). Everywhere, people will wish each other Shanah Tovah (a Good Year).
To learn more about the traditions and history of this holiday, click here.