Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. Why is the new year in September and not January? Well, officially it’s the celebration of the beginning of man. [That whole Adam/Eve story and all that. ] But actually, September really does feel like a time of change. After a warm and lazy summer, it’s the time of year we all buckle back down and get into routines again. Children go back to school, schedules become busy again, the weather gets brisker and we start to prepare for the cold weather approaching.
For Rosh Hashanah, we do very specific things. We get organized! From updating our wall calendars and address books to tightening the routines in our day, Rosh Hashanah is a time to refresh how we manage our time and space. Rosh Hashanah also kicks off the fiscal year in the corporate world, so working professionals honour Rosh Hashanah even if they don’t realize it by starting the books anew with a clean slate.
Rosh Hashanah is also a time when Jews reflect on any past misjudgements and clean the slate with repentance. Jewish people apologize to anyone they have offended or mistreated. We are encourage to visit a body of water and throw in pebbles or pieces of bread to ‘let go’ of any sins we feel weighted by that cannot be easily undone.
We are also encouraged to make special time for marital relations. It’s is the celebration for the creation of man after all! Perhaps we can blame Rosh Hashanah, or the cold evenings that kick in this time of year, but there are certainly a lot of Jewish summer birthdays! [grin.]
On Rosh Hashana we eat apples and honey, apples representing the first story of man and woman, and honey to represent the sweetness of life. We have a feast, known as the Yehi Ratzon which loosely translated to: “May it be Your will”, and during this feast we eat harvest foods including pumpkin and other squash, stuffed. We also eat fish, retaining the fish head on the plate. It’s tradition to encourage each other to eat as much of the fish head as possible for good luck!
Rabbis blow a special trumpet made from a ram’s horn known as a Shofar to wake us up to the new year and remind us that we will all be judged; therefore we should make resolutions and repent any sins. These resolutions which start on Rosh Hashana have eight days to take effect. If we don’t honour them, we are judged on the next holiday….