Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew: רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה), literally meaning the "head [of] the year", is the Jewish New Year. The biblical name for this holiday is Yom Teruah (יוֹם תְּרוּעָה), literally "day of shouting or blasting". It is the first of the Jewish High Holy Days (יָמִים נוֹרָאִים Yamim Nora'im. "Days of Awe") specified by Leviticus 23:23–32 that occur in the early autumn of the Northern Hemisphere.
Rosh Hashanah is a two-day celebration that begins on the first day of Tishrei, which is the seventh month of the ecclesiastical year. It marks the beginning of the civil year, according to the teachings of Judaism, while the first month Nisan, the passover month, is the traditional anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman according to the Hebrew Bible, and the inauguration of humanity's role in God's world. According to one secular opinion, the holiday owes its timing to the beginning of the economic year in Southwest Asia and Northeast Africa, marking the start of the agricultural cycle.
Rosh Hashanah customs include sounding the shofar (a hollowed-out ram's horn), as prescribed in the Torah, following the prescription of the Hebrew Bible to "raise a noise" on Yom Teruah. Its rabbinical customs include attending synagogue services and reciting special liturgy about teshuva, as well as enjoying festive meals. Eating symbolic foods is now a tradition, such as apples dipped in honey, hoping to evoke a sweet new year.
A shofar, symbol of the Rosh Hashanah holiday
|Official name||ראש השנה|
|Also called||Jewish New Year|
|Observances||Praying in synagogue, personal reflection, and hearing the shofar.|
|Begins||Start of first day of Tishrei|
|Ends||End of second day of Tishrei|
|2018 date||Sunset, 9 September –|
nightfall, 11 September
|2019 date||Sunset, 29 September –|
nightfall, 1 October
|2020 date||Sunset, 18 September –|
nightfall, 20 September
|2021 date||Sunset, 6 September –|
nightfall, 8 September
"Rosh" is the Hebrew word for "head", "ha" is the definite article ("the"), and "shanah" means year. Thus "Rosh HaShanah" means 'head [of] the year', referring to the Jewish day of new year.
The term "Rosh Hashanah" in its current meaning does not appear in the Torah. Leviticus 23:24 refers to the festival of the first day of the seventh month as "Zikhron Teru'ah" ("[a] memorial [with the] blowing [of horns]"); it is also referred to in the same part of Leviticus as 'שַׁבַּת שַׁבָּתוֹן' (shabbat shabbaton) or penultimate Sabbath or meditative rest day, and a "holy day to God". These same words are commonly used in the Psalms to refer to the anointed days. Numbers 29:1 calls the festival Yom Teru'ah, ("Day [of] blowing [the horn]"), and symbolizes a number of subjects, such as the Binding of Isaac whereby a ram was sacrificed instead of Isaac, and the animal sacrifices, including rams, that were to be performed. (The term Rosh Hashanah appears once in the Bible in Ezekiel 40:1 where it means generally the time of the "beginning of the year" or is possibly a reference to Yom Kippur, but the phrase may also refer to the Hebrew month of Nisan in the spring, especially in light of Exodus 12:2, Exodus 13:3–4 where the spring month of Aviv, later renamed Nisan, is stated as being "the first month of the year" and Ezekiel 45:18 where "the first month" unambiguously refers to Nisan, the month of Passover, as made plain by Ezekiel 45:21.)
In the Siddur and Machzor Jewish prayer-books, Rosh Hashanah is also called "Yom Hazikaron" ([a] day [of] the remembrance), not to be confused with the modern Israeli holiday of the same name, which falls in spring.
Rosh Hashanah marks the start of a new year in the Hebrew calendar (one of four "new year" observances that define various legal "years" for different purposes as explained in the Mishnah and Talmud). It is the new year for people, animals, and legal contracts. The Mishnah also sets this day aside as the new year for calculating calendar years, shmita and yovel years. Jews are confident that Rosh Hashanah represents either figuratively or literally God's creation ex nihilo. However, according to Rabbi Eleazar ben Shammua, Rosh Hashanah commemorates the creation of man.
The origin of the Hebrew New Year is connected to the beginning of the economic year in the agricultural societies of the ancient Near East. The New Year was the beginning of the cycle of sowing, growth, and harvest; the harvest was marked by its own set of major agricultural festivals. The Semites in general set the beginning of the new year in autumn, while other ancient civilizations chose spring for that purpose, such as the Persians or Greeks; the primary reason was agricultural in both cases, the time of sowing the seed and bringing in the harvest.
In Jewish law, four major New Years are observed, each one marking a beginning of sorts. The lunar month Nisan (usually corresponding to the months March–April in the Gregorian calendar) is when a new year is added to the reign of Jewish kings, and it marks the start of the year for the three Jewish pilgrimages. Its injunction is expressly stated in the Hebrew Bible: "This month shall be unto you the beginning of months" (Exo. 12:2). However, ordinary years, Sabbatical years, Jubilees, and dates inscribed on legal deeds and contracts are reckoned differently; such years begin on the first day of the lunar month Tishri (usually corresponding to the months September–October in the Gregorian calendar). Their injunction is expressly stated in the Hebrew Bible: "Three times in the year you shall keep a feast unto me… the feast of unleavened bread (Passover)… the feast of harvest (Shavuot)… and the feast of ingathering (Sukkot) which is at the departing of the year" (Exo. 23:14–16). "At the departing of the year" implies that the new year begins here.
The reckoning of Tishri as the beginning of the Jewish year began with the early Egyptians and was preserved by the Hebrew nation, being also alluded to in the Hebrew Bible (Genesis 7:11) when describing the Great Deluge at the time of Noah. This began during the "second month" (Marheshvan) counting from Tishri, a view that has largely been accepted by the Sages of Israel.
The Mishnah contains the second known reference to Rosh Hashanah as the "day of judgment". In the Talmud tractate on Rosh Hashanah, it states that three books of account are opened on Rosh Hashanah, wherein the fate of the wicked, the righteous, and those of an intermediate class are recorded. The names of the righteous are immediately inscribed in the book of life and they are sealed "to live". The intermediate class are allowed a respite of ten days, until Yom Kippur, to reflect, repent and become righteous; the wicked are "blotted out of the book of the living forever".
In Jewish liturgy, Rosh Hashanah leads to Yom Kippur, which is described as "the day of judgment" (Yom ha-Din) and "the day of remembrance" (Yom ha-Zikkaron). Some midrashic descriptions depict God as sitting upon a throne, while books containing the deeds of all humanity are opened for review, and each person passes in front of Him for evaluation of his or her deeds. The Talmud provides three central ideas behind the day:
"The Holy One said, 'on Rosh Hashanah recite before Me [verses of] Sovereignty, Remembrance, and Shofar blasts (malchuyot, zichronot, shofrot): Sovereignty so that you should make Me your King; Remembrance so that your remembrance should rise up before Me. And through what? Through the Shofar.' (Rosh Hashanah 16a, 34b)" This is reflected in the prayers composed by the classical rabbinic sages for Rosh Hashanah found in all machzorim where the theme of the prayers is the strongest theme is the "coronation" of God as King of the universe in preparation for the acceptance of judgments that will follow on that day, symbolized as "written" into a Divine book of judgments, that then hang in the balance for ten days waiting for all to repent, then they will be "sealed" on Yom Kippur. The assumption is that everyone was sealed for life and therefore the next festival is Sukkot (Tabernacles) that is referred to as "the time of our joy" (z'man simchateinu).
The Yamim Nora'im are preceded by the month of Elul, during which Jews are supposed to begin a self-examination and repentance, a process that culminates in the ten days of the Yamim Nora'im known as beginning with Rosh Hashanah and ending with the holiday of Yom Kippur.
The shofar is traditionally blown each morning for the entire month of Elul, the month preceding Rosh Hashanah. The sound of the shofar is intended to awaken the listeners from their "slumbers" and alert them to the coming judgment. The shofar is not blown on Shabbat.
Rosh Hashanah is also the day of "Yom Hadin", known as Judgment day. On Yom Hadin, three books are opened, the book of life, for the righteous among the nations, the book of death, for the most evil who receive the seal of death, and the third book for the ones living in doubts with non-evil sins.
Unlike the denominations of Rabbinical Judaism, Karaite Judaism believes the Jewish New Year starts with the first month and celebrate this holiday only as it is mentioned in the Torah, that is as a day of rejoicing and shouting. Additionally, Karaites believe the adoption of "Rosh Hashanah" in place of Yom Teruah "is the result of pagan Babylonian influence upon the Jewish nation, that began during the Babylonian exile with the adoption of the Babylonian month names instead of the numbering present in the Torah (Leviticus 23; Numbers 28). Karaites allow no work on the day except what is needed to prepare food (Leviticus 23:23, 24).
Samaritans, in their interpretation of the Torah, preserve the biblical name of the festival celebrated on the first day of the seventh month (Tishrei), namely Yom Teruah, and do not consider it to be a New Year's day.
Laws on the form and use of the shofar and laws related to the religious services during the festival of Rosh Hashanah are described in Rabbinic literature such as the Mishnah that formed the basis of the tractate "Rosh HaShanah" in both the Babylonian Talmud and the Jerusalem Talmud. This also contains the most important rules concerning the calendar year.
The shofar is blown in long, short, and staccato blasts that follow a set sequence:
The shofar is blown at various instances during the Rosh Hashanah prayers, with a total of 100 blasts over the day.
The evening before Rosh Hashanah day is known as Erev Rosh Hashanah ("Rosh Hashanah eve"). As with Rosh Hashanah day, it falls on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, since days of the Hebrew calendar begin at sundown. Some communities perform Hatarat nedarim (a nullification of vows) after the morning prayer services during the morning on the 29th of the Hebrew month of Elul, which ends at sundown, when Erev Rosh Hashanah commences. The mood becomes festive but serious in anticipation of the new year and the synagogue services. Many Orthodox men immerse in a mikveh in honor of the coming day.
Rosh Hashanah occurs 163 days after the first day of Passover (Pesach). In terms of the Gregorian calendar, the earliest date on which Rosh Hashanah can fall is September 5, as happened in 1842, 1861, 1899 and 2013. The latest Gregorian date that Rosh Hashanah can occur is October 5, as happened in 1815, 1929 and 1967, and will happen again in 2043. After 2089, the differences between the Hebrew calendar and the Gregorian calendar will result in Rosh Hashanah falling no earlier than September 6. Starting in 2214, the new latest date will be October 6.
Although the Jewish calendar is based on the lunar cycle, so that the first day of each month originally began with the first sighting of a new moon, since the fourth century it has been arranged so that Rosh Hashanah never falls on a Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday.
The Torah defines Rosh Hashanah as a one-day celebration, and since days in the Hebrew calendar begin at sundown, the beginning of Rosh Hashanah is at sundown at the end of 29 Elul. The rules of the Hebrew calendar are designed such that the first day of Rosh Hashanah will never occur on the first, fourth, or sixth day of the Jewish week (i.e., Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday). Since the time of the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem in 70 CE and the time of Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai, normative Jewish law appears to be that Rosh Hashanah is to be celebrated for two days, because of the difficulty of determining the date of the new moon. Nonetheless, there is some evidence that Rosh Hashanah was celebrated on a single day in Israel as late as the thirteenth century CE. Orthodox and Conservative Judaism now generally observe Rosh Hashanah for the first two days of Tishrei, even in Israel where all other Jewish holidays dated from the new moon last only one day. The two days of Rosh Hashanah are said to constitute "Yoma Arichtah" (Aramaic: "one long day"). In Reform Judaism, while most congregations in North America observe only the first day of Rosh Hashanah, some follow the traditional two-day observance as a sign of solidarity with other Jews worldwide. Karaite Jews, who do not recognize Rabbinic Jewish oral law and rely on their own understanding of the Torah, observe only one day on the first of Tishrei, since the second day is not mentioned in the Written Torah.
On Rosh Hashanah day, religious poems, called piyyutim, are added to the regular services. A special prayer book, the mahzor, is used on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (plural mahzorim). A number of additions are made to the regular service, most notably an extended repetition of the Amidah prayer for both Shacharit and Mussaf. The Shofar is blown during Mussaf at several intervals. (In many synagogues, even little children come and hear the Shofar being blown.) Biblical verses are recited at each point. According to the Mishnah, 10 verses (each) are said regarding kingship, remembrance, and the shofar itself, each accompanied by the blowing of the shofar. A variety of piyyutim, medieval penitential prayers, are recited regarding themes of repentance. The Alenu prayer is recited during the repetition of the Mussaf Amidah.
The Mussaf Amidah prayer on Rosh Hashanah is unique in that apart from the first and last 3 blessings, it contains 3 central blessings making a total of 9. These blessings are entitled "Malchuyot" (Kingship, and also includes the blessing for the holiness of the day as is in a normal Mussaf), "Zichronot" (Remembrance) and "Shofarot" (concerning the Shofar). Each section contains an introductory paragraph followed by selections of verses about the "topic". The verses are 3 from the Torah, 3 from the Ketuvim, 3 from the Nevi'im, and one more from the Torah. During the repetition of the Amidah, the Shofar is sounded (except on Shabbat) after the blessing that ends each section.
Rosh Hashanah meals usually include apples dipped in honey to symbolize a sweet new year. Other foods with a symbolic meaning may be served, depending on local minhag ("custom"), such as the head of a fish (to symbolize the prayer "let us be the head and not the tail").
Many communities hold a "Rosh Hashanah seder" during which blessings are recited over a variety of symbolic dishes. The blessings have the incipit "Yehi ratzon", meaning "May it be Thy will." In many cases, the name of the food in Hebrew or Aramaic represents a play on words (a pun). The Yehi Ratzon platter may include apples (dipped in honey, baked or cooked as a compote called mansanada); dates; pomegranates; black-eyed peas; pumpkin-filled pastries called rodanchas; leek fritters called keftedes de prasa; beets; and a whole fish with the head intact. It is also common to eat stuffed vegetables called legumbres yaprakes.
Some of the symbolic foods eaten are dates, black-eyed peas, leek, spinach and gourd, all of which are mentioned in the Talmud: “Let a man be accustomed to eat on New Year's Day gourds (קרא), and fenugreek (רוביא), leeks (כרתי), beet [leaves] (סילקא), and dates ( תמרי).” Pomegranates are used in many traditions, to symbolize being fruitful like the pomegranate with its many seeds. The use of apples dipped in honey, symbolizing a sweet year, is a late medieval Ashkenazi addition, though it is now almost universally accepted. Typically, round challah bread is served, to symbolize the cycle of the year. From ancient to quite modern age, lamb head or fish head were served. Nowadays, gefilte fish and lekach are commonly served by Ashkenazic Jews on this holiday. On the second night, new fruits are served to warrant inclusion of the shehecheyanu blessing.
The ritual of tashlikh is performed on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah by Ashkenazic and most Sephardic Jews (but not by Spanish & Portuguese Jews or some Yemenites). Prayers are recited near natural flowing water, and one's sins are symbolically cast into the water. Many also have the custom to throw bread or pebbles into the water, to symbolize the "casting off" of sins. In some communities, if the first day of Rosh Hashanah occurs on Shabbat, tashlikh is postponed until the second day. The traditional service for tashlikh is recited individually and includes the prayer "Who is like unto you, O God...And You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea", and Biblical passages including Isaiah 11:9 ("They will not injure nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be as full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea") and Psalms 118:5–9, Psalms 121 and Psalms 130, as well as personal prayers. Though once considered a solemn individual tradition, it has become an increasingly social ceremony practiced in groups. Tashlikh can be performed any time until Hoshana Rabba, and some Hasidic communities perform Tashlikh on the day before Yom Kippur.
The Hebrew common greeting on Rosh Hashanah is Shanah Tovah (Hebrew: שנה טובה) (pronounced [ʃaˈna toˈva]), which translated from Hebrew means "[have a] good year". Often Shanah Tovah Umetukah (Hebrew: שנה טובה ומתוקה), meaning "[have a] Good and Sweet Year", is used. In Yiddish the greeting is אַ גוט יאָר "a gut yor" ("a good year") or אַ גוט געבענטשט יאָר "a gut gebentsht yor" ("a good blessed year"). The formal Sephardic greeting is Tizku Leshanim Rabbot ("may you merit many years"), to which the answer is Ne'imot VeTovot ("pleasant and good ones"). Less formally, people wish each other "many years" in the local language.
A more formal greeting commonly used among religiously observant Jews is Ketivah VaChatimah Tovah (Hebrew: כְּתִיבָה וַחֲתִימָה טוֹבָה), which translates as "A good inscription and sealing [in the Book of Life]", or L'shanah tovah tikatevu v'tichatemu meaning "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year". After Rosh Hashanah ends, the greeting is changed to G’mar chatimah tovah (Hebrew: גמר חתימה טובה) meaning "A good final sealing", until Yom Kippur. After Yom Kippur is over, until Hoshana Rabbah, as Sukkot ends, the greeting is Gmar Tov (Hebrew: גְּמָר טוֹב), "a good conclusion".
The above describes three stages as the spiritual order of the month of Tishrei unfolds: On Rosh Hashanah Jewish tradition maintains that God opens the books of judgment of creation and all mankind starting from each individual person, so that what is decreed is first written in those books, hence the emphasis on the "ketivah" ("writing"). The judgment is then pending and prayers and repentance are required. Then on Yom Kippur, the judgment is "sealed" or confirmed (i.e. by the Heavenly Court), hence the emphasis is on the word "chatimah" ("sealed"). But the Heavenly verdict is still not final because there is still an additional hope that until Sukkot concludes God will deliver a final, merciful judgment, hence the use of "gmar" ("end") that is "tov" ("good").
Includes link for Audio Shiur in English
Avinu Malkeinu (Hebrew: אָבִינוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ; "Our Father, Our King") is a Jewish prayer recited during Jewish services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, as well as on the Ten Days of Repentance from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur. In the Ashkenazic tradition, it is recited on all fast days; in the Sephardic tradition only because it is recited for the Ten Days of Repentance does it occur on the fast days of Yom Kippur and the Fast of Gedaliah.Joseph H. Hertz (died 1946), chief rabbi of the British Empire, described it as "the oldest and most moving of all the litanies of the Jewish Year." It makes use of two sobriquets for God that appear separately in the Bible; "Our Father" (Isaiah 63:16) and "Our King" (Isaiah 33:22).
The Talmud (T.B. Ta'anith 25b) records Rabbi Akiva (died 135 CE) reciting two verses each beginning "Our Father, Our King" in a prayer to end a drought (apparently successfully). In a much later compilation of Talmudic notes, published circa 1515, this is expanded to five verses. It is very probable that, at first, there was no set number of verses, no sequence, nor perhaps any fixed text. Apparently an early version had the verses in alphabetic sequence, which would mean 22 verses. The prayer book of Amram Gaon (9th century) had 25 verses. The Mahzor Vitry (early 12th century) has more than 40 verses and added the explanation that the prayer accumulated additional verses that were added ad hoc on various occasions and thereafter retained. Presently, the Sephardic (Spanish and Portuguese) tradition has 29 verses, among the Mizrahi Jews the Syrian tradition has 31 or 32 verses, but the Yemenite has only 27 verses, the Salonika as many as 53 verses, the Ashkenazic has 38 verses, the Polish tradition has 44 verses, all with different sequences. And within traditions, some verses change depending on the occasion, such as the Ten Days of Repentance, including Rosh Hashana and the bulk of Yom Kippur (when it is generally said kotvenu - "inscribe us"), or the Ne'ila Yom Kippur service (chotmenu - "seal us"), or a lesser fast day (zokhreinu - "remember us").Each line of the prayer begins with the words "Avinu Malkeinu" ["Our Father, Our King"] and is then followed by varying phrases, mostly supplicatory. There is often a slow, chanting, repetitive aspect to the melody to represent the pious pleading within the prayer. There are 54 such verses. Verses 15-23 are recited responsively, first by the leader and then repeated by the congregation. The reader also reads the last verse aloud (and sometimes it is sung by the entire congregation) but, traditionally, in a whisper, as it is a supplication.On most days when Avinu Malkeinu is recited, it is included during Shacharit and Mincha on that day. It is omitted on Shabbat (except Yom Kippur at Ne'ila) and at Mincha on Fridays. On Erev Yom Kippur it is not recited at Mincha but some congregations do recite it in the morning when it falls on Friday. On Yom Kippur, Avinu Malkeinu is also recited during Maariv and Ne'ila, except when Yom Kippur falls on Shabbat in the Ashkenazi tradition, in which case Avinu Malkeinu is recited during Ne'ila only. During the Avinu Malkenu, the Ark is opened, and at the end of the prayer, the Ark is closed. In the Sephardic tradition the Ark is not opened, and each community follows received customs about whether to say it on Shabbat Throughout the Ten Days of Repentance, five lines of Avinu Malkeinu that refer to various heavenly books include the word Kotveinu ("Inscribe us"). During Ne'ila, this is replaced with Chotmeinu ("Seal us"). This reflects the belief that on Rosh Hashanah all is written and revealed and on Yom Kippur all decrees for the coming year are sealed. When recited on Fast Days (other than the Fast of Gedaliah which falls in the days of Penitence) the phrase Barech Aleinu ("bless us") in the 4th verse is recited instead of the usual Chadesh Aleinu ("renew us"), and "Zochreinu" (remember us) is recited in verses 19-23 in place of "Kotveinu B'Sefer" (inscribe us in the book). Fast Days on which it is not recited (by any custom) are Tisha B'Av, the afternoon of the Fast of Esther except when it is brought forward (thus not falling immediately before Purim) and when the 10th of Tevet falls on a Friday it is omitted at Mincha (as is usual on a Friday).
Sephardic Jews do not recite Avinu Malkeinu on fast days (except those that fall in the days of Penitence). Instead, a series of Selichot prayers specific to the day are recited.
In the interests of gender neutrality, the UK Liberal Jewish prayer-book for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (Machzor Ruach Chadashah) translates the epithet as "Our Creator, Our Sovereign". It also contains a contemporary prayer based on Avinu Malkeinu in which the feminine noun Shekhinah is featured. The Reform Jewish High Holy Days prayer book Mishkan HaNefesh, released in 2015 and intended as a companion to Mishkan T'filah, includes a version of Avinu Malkeinu that refers to God as both "Loving Father" and "Compassionate Mother."Elul
Elul (Hebrew: אֱלוּל, Standard Elul Tiberian ʾĔlûl) is the twelfth month of the Jewish civil year and the sixth month of the ecclesiastical year on the Hebrew calendar. It is a summer month of 29 days. Elul usually occurs in August–September on the Gregorian calendar.
In the Jewish tradition, the month of Elul is a time of repentance in preparation for the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The word "Elul" is similar to the root of the verb "search" in Aramaic. The Talmud writes that the Hebrew word "Elul" can be understood to be an acronym for the phrase "Ani L'dodi V'dodi Li" – "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine" (Song of Solomon 6:3). Elul is seen as a time to search one's heart and draw close to God in preparation for the coming Day of Judgement, Rosh Hashanah, and Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur.During the month of Elul, there are a number of special rituals leading up to the High Holy Days. It is customary to blow the shofar every morning (except on Shabbat) from Rosh Hodesh Elul (the first day of the month) until the day before Rosh Hashanah. The blasts are meant to awaken one's spirits and inspire him to begin the soul searching which will prepare him for the High Holy Days. As part of this preparation, Elul is the time to begin the sometimes-difficult process of granting and asking for forgiveness. It is also customary to recite Psalm 27 every day from Rosh Hodesh Elul through Hoshanah Rabbah on Sukkot (in Tishrei).
Aside from the blowing of the shofar, the other significant ritual practice during Elul is to recite selichot (special penitential prayers) either every morning before sunrise beginning on the Sunday immediately before Rosh Hashanah, or, if starting Sunday would not afford four days of selichot, then the Sunday one week prior (Ashkenazi tradition) or every morning during the entire month of Elul (Sephardi tradition). Ashkenazi Jews begin the recitation of selichot with a special service on Saturday night between solar mid-night (not 12:00) and morning light on the first day of Selichot.
Many Jews also visit the graves of loved ones throughout the month in order to remember and honor those people in our past who inspire us to live more fully in the future.
Another social custom is to begin or end all letters written during the month of Elul with wishes that the recipient have a good year. The standard blessing is "K'tiva VaHatima Tova" ("a good writing and sealing [of judgement]"), meaning that the person should be written and sealed in the Book of Life for a good year. Tradition teaches that on Rosh Hashanah, each person is written down for a good or a poor year, based on their actions in the previous one, and their sincere efforts at atoning for mistakes or harm. On Yom Kippur, that fate is "sealed."Hebrew calendar
The Hebrew or Jewish calendar (הַלּוּחַ הָעִבְרִי, Ha-Luah ha-Ivri) is a lunisolar calendar used today predominantly for Jewish religious observances. It determines the dates for Jewish holidays and the appropriate public reading of Torah portions, yahrzeits (dates to commemorate the death of a relative), and daily Psalm readings, among many ceremonial uses. In Israel, it is used for religious purposes, provides a time frame for agriculture and is an official calendar for civil purposes, although the latter usage has been steadily declining in favor of the Gregorian calendar.
The present Hebrew calendar is the product of evolution, including a Babylonian influence. Until the Tannaitic period (approximately 10–220 CE), the calendar employed a new crescent moon, with an additional month normally added every two or three years to correct for the difference between twelve lunar months and the solar year. The year in which it was added was based on observation of natural agriculture-related events in ancient Israel. Through the Amoraic period (200–500 CE) and into the Geonic period, this system was gradually displaced by the mathematical rules used today. The principles and rules were fully codified by Maimonides in the Mishneh Torah in the 12th century. Maimonides' work also replaced counting "years since the destruction of the Temple" with the modern creation-era Anno Mundi.
The Hebrew lunar year is about eleven days shorter than the solar year and uses the 19-year Metonic cycle to bring it into line with the solar year, with the addition of an intercalary month every two or three years, for a total of seven times per 19 years. Even with this intercalation, the average Hebrew calendar year is longer by about 6 minutes and 40 seconds than the current mean tropical year, so that every 217 years the Hebrew calendar will fall a day behind the current mean tropical year; and about every 238 years it will fall a day behind the mean Gregorian calendar year.The era used since the Middle Ages is the Anno Mundi epoch (Latin for "in the year of the world"; Hebrew: לבריאת העולם, "from the creation of the world"). As with Anno Domini (A.D. or AD), the words or abbreviation for Anno Mundi (A.M. or AM) for the era should properly precede the date rather than follow it.
AM 5779 began at sunset on 9 September 2018 and will end at sunset on 29 September 2019.High Holy Days
The High Holidays or High Holy Days, in Judaism, more properly known as the Yamim Noraim (Hebrew: ימים נוראים "Days of Awe"), may mean:
strictly, the holidays of Rosh Hashanah ("Jewish New Year") and Yom Kippur ("Day of Atonement");
by extension, the period of ten days including those holidays, known also as the Ten Days of Repentance (Aseret Yemei Teshuvah); or,
by a further extension, the entire 40-day penitential period in the Jewish year from Rosh Chodesh Elul to Yom Kippur, traditionally taken to represent the forty days Moses spent on Mount Sinai before coming down with the second ("replacement") set of the Tablets of Stone.Jewish and Israeli holidays 2000–2050
This is an almanac-like listing of major Jewish holidays from 2000 to 2050. All Jewish holidays begin at sundown on the evening before the date shown. On holidays marked "*", Jews are not permitted to work. Because the Hebrew calendar is governed by precise mathematical rules and no longer relies at all on observation, it is possible to state what day the holidays will fall on for any date in the foreseeable future.Jewish holidays
Jewish holidays, also known as Jewish festivals or Yamim Tovim (ימים טובים, "Good Days", or singular יום טוב Yom Tov, in transliterated Hebrew [English: ]), are holidays observed in Judaism and by Jews throughout the Hebrew calendar. They include religious, cultural and national elements, derived from three sources: Biblical mitzvot ("commandments"); rabbinic mandates; Jewish history and the history of the State of Israel.
Jewish holidays occur on the same dates every year in the Hebrew calendar, but the dates vary in the Gregorian. This is because the Hebrew calendar is a lunisolar calendar (i.e., based on the cycles of both the sun and moon), whereas the Gregorian is a solar calendar.Kittel
A kittel, also spelled kitl (Yiddish: קיטל, robe, coat, cf. German Kittel "[house/work] coat"), is a white robe, usually made of cotton or a cotton/polyester blend, which can serve as part of the tachrichim or burial furnishings for male Jews. It is also worn on special occasions by married Ashkenazi men. In western Europe this garment has sometimes been called a sargenes. The word sargenes is related to the Old French serge as well as Latin serica. The term has mainly fallen out of use in modern times, except in certain neighborhoods such as Washington Heights in New York City.
As part of Jewish men's burial furnishings, the kittel provides a simple attire that assures equality for all in death. Because Jewish law dictates that the dead are buried without anything else in the coffin other than simple linen clothes, a kittel has no pockets.
It is also worn by married Ashkenazi men on Yom Kippur and in some instances on Rosh Hashanah. The wearing of a kittel on the High Holidays is symbolically linked to its use as a burial shroud, and, to the verse "our sins shall be made as white as snow" (Isaiah 1:18).Many married Ashkenazi men also wear a kittel when leading the Passover Seder. In some communities, the cantor wears it during certain special services during the year, such as the first night of Selichot, the seventh day of the Holiday of Sukkot (also known as Hoshanah Rabbah), the Musaf prayers of Shemini Atzeret and the first day of Passover, where the prayers for rain (Tefilat HaGeshem) and dew (Tefilat HaTal) are respectively recited. According to many traditions a bridegroom wears a kittel on his wedding day.The white color is said to symbolize purity, which partly explains its use during weddings. It is also felt to signify unity with the bride (who also wears white) and the beginning of a new life together. Another reason it is worn at the wedding is because it has no pockets, showing that the couple is marrying for love, not for what they possess.Lekach
Lekach is a honey-sweetened cake made by Jews, especially for the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. Known in Hebrew as ʿougat dvash (literally, honey cake) the word lekach is Yiddish, perhaps from the Aramaic, lĕkhakh, meaning to mix thoroughly. Lekach is one of the symbolically significant foods traditionally eaten by Ashkenazi Jews at Rosh Hashanah in hopes of ensuring a sweet New Year.Recipes vary widely. Lekach is usually a dense, loaf-shaped cake, but some versions are similar to sponge cake or pound cake, with the addition of honey and spices, sometimes with coffee or tea for coloring. Other versions are more like gingerbread, pain d'épices, or lebkuchen.The Jewish tradition of honeyed cakes may date back to basbousa (sometimes spelled basboosa), an ancient Egyptian cake, variations of which are still enjoyed throughout the Middle East.
A very traditional honey cake from Austria contains an equal weight of white rye flour and dark honey, strong coffee instead of water, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, and golden raisins in the loaf, with slivered almonds on top of the loaf. It also has a fair number of eggs, vegetable oil (usually corn oil), salt, and baking powder.Moed
Moed (Hebrew: מועד, "Festivals") is the second Order of the Mishnah, the first written recording of the Oral Torah of the Jewish people (also the Tosefta and Talmud). Of the six orders of the Mishna, Moed is the third shortest. The order of Moed consists of 12 tractates:
Shabbat: or Shabbath (שבת) ("Sabbath") deals with the 39 prohibitions of "work" on the Shabbat. 24 chapters.
Eruvin: (ערובין) ("Mixtures") deals with the Eruv or Sabbath-bound - a category of constructions/delineations that alter the domains of the Sabbath for carrying and travel. 10 chapters.
Pesahim: (פסחים) ("Passover Festivals") deals with the prescriptions regarding the Passover and the paschal sacrifice. 10 chapters.
Shekalim: (שקלים) ("Shekels") deals with the collection of the half-Shekel as well as the expenses and expenditure of the Temple. 8 chapters
Yoma: (יומא) ("The Day"); called also "Kippurim" or "Yom ha-Kippurim" ("Day of Atonement"); deals with the prescriptions Yom Kippur, especially the ceremony by the Kohen Gadol. 8 chapters.
Sukkah: (סוכה) ("Booth"); deals with the festival of Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles) and the Sukkah itself. Also deals with the Four Species (Lulav, Etrog, Hadass, Aravah — Palm branch, Citron, Myrtle, Willow) which are waved on Sukkot. 5 chapters.
Beitza: (ביצה) ("Egg"); (So called from the first word, but originally termed, according to its subject, Yom Tov - "Holidays") deals chiefly with the rules to be observed on Yom Tov. 5 chapters.
Rosh Hashanah: (ראש השנה) ("New Year") deals chiefly with the regulation of the calendar by the new moon, and with the services of the festival of Rosh Hashanah. 4 chapters.
Ta'anit: (תענית) ("Fasting") deals chiefly with the special fast-days in times of drought or other untoward occurrences. 4 chapters
Megillah: (מגילה) ("Scroll") contains chiefly regulations and prescriptions regarding the reading of the scroll of Esther at Purim, and the reading of other passages from the Torah and Neviim in the synagogue. 4 chapters.
Mo'ed Katan: (מועד קטן) ("Little Festival") deals with Chol HaMoed, the intermediate festival days of Pesach and Sukkot. 3 chapters.
Hagigah: (חגיגה) ("Festival Offering") deals with the Three Pilgrimage Festivals (Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot) and the pilgrimage offering that men were supposed to bring in Jerusalem. 3 chapters.The Jerusalem Talmud has a Gemara on each of the tractates, while in the Babylonian, only that on Shekalim is missing. However, in most printed editions of the Babylonian Talmud (as well as the Daf Yomi cycle), the Jerusalem Gemara to Shekalim is included.
In the Babylonian Talmud the treatises of the order Mo'ed are arranged as follows: Shabbat, 'Erubin, Pesachim, Rosh ha-Shanah, Yoma, Sukkah, Beitzah, Hagigah, Mo'ed Katan, Ta'anit, Megillah; while the sequence in the Jerusalem Talmud is Shabbat, Eruvin, Pesachim, Yoma, Sheqalim, Sukkah, Rosh ha-Shanah, Beitzah, Ta'anit, Megillah, Hagigah, Mo'ed' Katan.
On the Festivals, some have the custom to learn the Tractate in this Order which details the laws of that respective festival. (e.g. they would learn Tractate Rosh Hashanah on the holiday of Rosh Hashanah).Psalm 81
Psalm 81 is the 81st psalm in the biblical Book of Psalms. Its themes relate to celebration and repentance. In the New King James Version its sub-title is "An Appeal for Israel's Repentance". In the Greek Septuagint version of the bible, and in its Latin translation in the Vulgate, this psalm is Psalm 80 in a slightly different numbering system.Rosh Hashana kibbutz
The Rosh Hashana kibbutz (Hebrew: קיבוץ; plural: kibbutzim: קיבוצים, "gathering" or "ingathering") is a large prayer assemblage of Breslover Hasidim held on the Jewish New Year. It specifically refers to the pilgrimage of tens of thousands of Hasidim to the city of Uman, Ukraine, but also refers to sizable Rosh Hashana gatherings of Breslover Hasidim in other locales around the world. In recent years the pilgrimage to Uman has attracted Jewish seekers from all levels of religious observance and affiliation, including introducing Sephardic Jews to Hasidic spirituality. This has added to Breslov's position in the Baal teshuva movement of Jewish outreach.Rosh Hashanah (tractate)
Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew: רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה) is the name of a text of Jewish law originating in the Mishnah which formed the basis of tractates in both the Babylonian Talmud and the Jerusalem Talmud of the same name. It is the eighth tractate of the order Moed. The text contains the most important rules concerning the calendar year, together with a description of the inauguration of the months, laws on the form and use of the shofar and laws related to the religious services during the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah.Rosh Hashanah LaBehema
Rosh Hashanah L'Ma'sar Behemah (Hebrew: ראש השנה למעשר בהמה "New Year for Tithing Animals") or Rosh Hashanah LaBehemot (Hebrew: ראש השנה לבהמות "New Year for (Domesticated) Animals") is one of the four New Year's day festivals (Rosh Hashanot) in the Jewish calendar as indicated in the Mishnah. During the time of the Temple, this was a day on which shepherds determined which of their mature animals were to be tithed. The day coincides with Rosh Chodesh Elul, the New Moon for the month of Elul, exactly one month before Rosh Hashanah.
Beginning in 2009, the festival began to be revived by religious Jewish animal protection advocates and environmental educators to raise awareness of the mitsvah of tsar baalei chayim, the source texts informing Jewish ethical relationships with domesticated animals, and the lived experience of animals impacted by human needs, especially in the industrial meat industry.Rosh Hashanah seder
A Rosh Hashanah seder is a festive meal held on the Jewish holy day of Rosh Hashanah.
At the Rosh Hashanah seder, special foods known as simanim (signs) are served.Samech Vov
Yom Tov Shel Rosh Hashana: 5666 (Hebrew: ספר המאמרים תרס״ו), or Samech Vov, is a compilation of the Chasidic treatises by Rabbi Sholom Dovber Schneersohn, the fifth Rebbe of Chabad, from the Hebrew year 5666 (1905–06). This series of Chassidic essays are considered a fundamental work of Chabad mysticism. The Samech Vov series is one of the single largest works of Chabad philosophy. The work is titled as Yom Tov Shel Rosh Hashana after the opening words of the first treatise. The work is also referred to as Hemshech Samech Vov ("Samech Vov Series").Shofar
A shofar (pron. , from Hebrew: שׁוֹפָר , pronounced [ʃoˈfaʁ]) is an ancient musical horn typically made of a ram's horn, used for Jewish religious purposes. Like the modern bugle, the shofar lacks pitch-altering devices, with all pitch control done by varying the player's embouchure. The shofar is blown in synagogue services on Rosh Hashanah and at the very end of Yom Kippur, and is also blown every weekday morning in the month of Elul running up to Rosh Hashanah. Shofars come in a variety of sizes and shapes, depending on the choice of animal and level of finish.Shofar blowing
The blowing of the shofar (Hebrew: תקיעת שופר, pronounced [teki'at shofarʻ]), or ram's horn, on Rosh Hashanah – although not exclusively limited to a ram's horn, as almost any natural bovid horn serves the purpose, excepting a cow's horn, is an injunction that is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 23:24) in undefined terms, without divulging how this was to be done:
Speak unto the children of Israel, saying: In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall be a solemn rest unto you, a memorial proclaimed with the blast of horns, a holy convocation.Tashlikh
Tashlikh (Hebrew: תשליך "cast off") is a customary Jewish atonement ritual performed during the High Holy Days.Ten Days of Repentance
The Ten Days of Repentance (Hebrew: עשרת ימי תשובה, Aseret Yemei Teshuva) are the first ten days of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, usually sometime in the month of September, beginning with the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah and ending with the conclusion of Yom Kippur.
Jewish holidays and
Holidays / memorial days
of the State of Israel
|Ethnic minority holidays|
|Hebrew calendar months|
|Ten Days of Repentance|
American Heart Month
Black History Month
Irish-American Heritage Month
National Colon Cancer Awareness Month
Women's History Month
Confederate History Month
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
Jewish American Heritage Month
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and
Transgender Pride Month
Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
Hispanic Heritage Month
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Disability Employment Awareness Month
Filipino American History Month
LGBT History Month
Native American Indian Heritage Month
|Varies (year round)|
(federal) = federal holidays, (state) = state holidays, (religious) = religious holidays, (week) = weeklong holidays, (month) = monthlong holidays, (36) = Title 36 Observances and Ceremonies