Jewish New Year in Israel | Rosh Hashana 2023

Shana Tova! Happy New Year!

Rosh Hashana is a two-day holiday that celebrates the start of the new year according to the Jewish calendar. This year, Rosh Hashana begins in the evening of Friday, 15 September 2023 and ends in the evening of Sunday, 17 September 2023. Rosh Hashana commemorates the creation of the world and begins a 10-day period called the High Holy Days that ends on Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement. During Rosh Hashana, people take time to review the mistakes they made in the past year, and they also plan the changes they hope to make in the new year.

Blowing of the Shofar

The blowing of the shofar is an essential part of Rosh Hashana. It is said that the sound of the shofar is a call to repent and a reminder for Jews that God is their king. Tradition requires the shofar blower to play four sets of notes on Rosh Hashana: tekiah, a long blast; shevarim, three short blasts; teruah, nine staccato blasts; and tekiah gedolah, a very long blast.

Symbolic Foods

On the two nights of Rosh Hashana, Jews enjoy a festive meal. In many families, women and girls light the candles at different times before sundown on the first night of the holiday and after nightfall on the second night of the holiday. The meal begins with Kiddush, a blessing over kosher wine, round challah bread often studded with sweet raisins, and other foods that express positive wishes for a plentiful, spiritually uplighting, and sweet new year.

Symbolic foods include apples dipped in honey representing the hope for a sweet year ahead, a fish or ram head signifying the desire to be at the head of the class, pomegranates symbolizing the wish to have a year full of mitzvot and good deeds, and carrot tzimmes as a symbol of prosperity and good fortune.

Shana Tova

It is very festive in Israel around the time of Rosh Hashana. Friends, neighbours, family, shopkeepers, and sometimes even strangers in the street often greet one another with the Hebrew phrase, “shana tova”, meaning “for a good year”. Shops and markets are very busy because people are stocking up on food for meals, and gifts for relatives and close friends. There is also a lot of traffic on the roads in the lead-up to the festival because Israelis are travelling around the country to meet up with families and friends.

To a happy, healthy, and a sweet new year!

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