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Rosh Hashanah: What to know about the Jewish New Year

Rosh Hashanah begins on the first day of the Hebrew month of "Tishrei" and is one of the two main High Holy Days.

WASHINGTON — Over the next few weeks, Jewish people around the world will gather together to observe the High Holy Days

There are two main High Holy Days, also known as the High Holidays, the first of which is Rosh Hashanah, which celebrates the Jewish New Year. 

Some of the key ways to observe Rosh Hashanah include attending synagogue services to hear the blowing of the shofar, a sacred ram's horn, and eating apples and honey. Apples represent hopes for fruitfulness and honey symbolizes the desire for a sweet year.

Rosh Hashanah often involves a ritual called tashlich, where you throw bread onto running water to symbolically cast off sins from the past year. 

Rosh Hashanah is believed to mark the date of the creation of the world and it also begins the "Days of Awe" or "Ten Days of Repentance," a 10-day period which culminates with Yom Kippur. 

Yom Kippur is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar and also one of the most somber commemorations of the year. Jewish adults observing Yom Kippur typically will fast for around 25 hours (starting at sundown the night before). However, Jewish teaching explains that anyone whose health may be at risk by fasting is exempt and should still eat and drink water on Yom Kippur.   

When is Rosh Hashanah?

Rosh Hashanah 2022 began at sundown on Sunday, Sept. 25 and concludes at sundown on Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022. 

It begins on the first day of the Hebrew month of "Tishrei." The Jewish calendar is based primarily on the moon and the Gregorian calendar is based on the sun, which is why it can feel like the High Holidays are sometimes "late" or "early" in the U.S. However, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are always observed on the same days on the Jewish calendar. 

What do you say to someone for Rosh Hashanah?

There are many acceptable ways to greet someone who is celebrating Rosh Hashanah. It is a festive holiday, so if you want to keep it simple, "Happy New Year," works just fine. 

Jews will often greet one another by saying "Shanah tovah" (pronounced shah-NAH toe-VAH), which means "Good year." 

Is Rosh Hashanah a federal holiday?

No, Rosh Hashanah is not a federal holiday in the United States. 

When is Yom Kippur? 

Yom Kippur 2022 begins at sundown on Tuesday, Oct. 4 and ends at sundown on Wednesday, Oct. 5. 

What do you say to someone for Yom Kippur? 

Unlike Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur is a somber holiday, so you shouldn't tell someone "Happy Yom Kippur." 

Instead, you could tell someone to "have an easy fast." Some have recently taken to instead wishing people a "meaningful fast." This recognizes that the fasting on Yom Kippur is not necessarily supposed to be an easy task.  

Another traditional greeting is "G'mar chatima tova" (pronounced gih-MAR chah-tee-MAH toe-VAH), which basically means "May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for good." In Jewish tradition it is believed one's fate is decided on Rosh Hashanah and sealed on Yom Kippur.

Credit: AlexanderD - stock.adobe.com
Apple-shaped bowl with honey, apples, shofar for Rosh hashanah, the Jewish new year.

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