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Rosh Hashanah 2023: Welcoming the Jewish New Year with Joy and Reflection

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is a significant and spiritually rich holiday celebrated by Jewish communities around the world.



Glenn Asakawa

Rosh Hashanah, often referred to as the “Head of the Year” in Hebrew, holds a special place in Jewish culture and faith. It’s a time when Jewish people come together to usher in a new year with hope, reflection, and a strong sense of community.

The Sound of the Shofar: One of the most iconic symbols of Rosh Hashanah is the shofar, a ram’s horn trumpet. Its distinctive sounds, including the tekiah, shevarim, and teruah, are blown during synagogue services to awaken the soul and inspire introspection. The blasts of the shofar call upon individuals to take stock of their actions, seek forgiveness, and set intentions for the year ahead.

Sweet Traditions: Rosh Hashanah is synonymous with sweetness, both metaphorically and literally. Traditional foods like apples dipped in honey symbolize the hope for a sweet year ahead. Challah bread is baked in a round shape instead of the usual braided loaf, representing the cyclical nature of life and the year. Many also enjoy dishes featuring pomegranates, symbolizing the abundance of mitzvot (good deeds) in the coming year.

Prayer and Reflection: Synagogue services during Rosh Hashanah are filled with heartfelt prayers and readings from the Torah. A central theme of this holiday is teshuvah, which means repentance or return. Jewish individuals use this time to examine their actions, seek forgiveness from both God and fellow humans, and commit to positive changes.

Family Gatherings: Rosh Hashanah is a time for families to come together and celebrate. Many families partake in festive meals that include traditional dishes. It’s also an opportunity to spend quality time with loved ones and reflect on shared values and heritage.

Tashlich Ceremony: On the second day of Rosh Hashanah, some Jewish communities participate in the Tashlich ceremony. They gather near a body of water to symbolically cast away their sins by tossing breadcrumbs into the flowing water. This act represents the cleansing and renewal of the spirit.