[2013] Natalia Loomis (Morality MrsGemmell, DiCarlo - Morality): Rosh Hashanah

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[2013] Natalia Loomis (Morality MrsGemmell, DiCarlo - Morality): Rosh Hashanah

By: Natalia Loomis

Rosh Hashanah

What Is Rosh Hashanah?Rosh Hashanah is the autumnal festival celebrating the start of the Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first and second days of Tishri.

What Does It Mean? In Hebrew, the phrase Rosh Hashanah literally means "head of the year" and thus the holiday is commonly known as the Jewish New Year.

Special CustomsAlthough the holiday includes elements of joy and celebration, Rosh HaShanah is a deeply religious occasion. The customs and symbols of Rosh HaShanah reflect the holiday's dual emphasis on both happiness and humility. Customs observed on Rosh HaShanah include the sounding of the shofar and eating special foods including round challah, which symbolizes the circle of life, and sweet foods for a sweet New Year. It is also customary to extend wishes for a good year. In Hebrew, the simple form of the greeting is "L'shanah tovah!"

Special FoodsSymbolic foods include Honey for a sweet year,pomegranates for one of the Seven Species of Israel and the seeds represent the merits for the new year. Black-Eyed Peas, Green Beans, or Fenugreek symbolize the merit of the new year. Headsof Fish, Sheep, Cabbage or Garlic symbolize the "head" instead of "tails" meaning luck for the year.Leeks leek is related to the word kareyt, to cut. This symbol is linked to the prayer that those who wish to hurt us will instead be cut off.

Apples and honey?The apple symbolizes Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden), which according to the Midrash has the scent of an apple orchard, and in Kabbalah is called “the holy apple orchard.” Coupled with the added sweetness of the honey, it is symbolic of the ultra sweet year we hope G‑d will grant us.

The Previous Month.Preparation for the High Holidays begins a full month before Rosh HaShanah. The entire Hebrew month of Elul is dedicated to readying ourselves for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. Some congregations follow the custom of sounding the shofar at the end of each weekday morning service during Elul as a reminder of the approaching season.

CelebrationMany Reform Jews celebrate one day of Rosh HaShanah, while others, together with Conservative and Orthodox Jews observe two days. Historically, North American Reform congregations have followed the calendar set forth in the Torah (Lev. 23:24; Num. 29:1), in which Rosh HaShanah is observed for one day, on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. However, this holiday differs from all other Jewish festivals because it is observed for two days even in the land of Israel, where all stores, schools and businesses are closed for the holiday.

Rtiuals One very meaningful practice associated with Rosh HaShanah is Tashlich, a ceremony in which Jews go to a body of water, such as a river, stream, or ocean, to cast away their sins by symbolically tossing bread into the water. This physical act inspires them to remember their actions, right their wrongs, and refocus themselves for the New Year. The shofar, made from the horn of a ram, is sounded throughout the High Holiday period, beginning during the preparatory days of Elul and on the feast of Rosh Hashanah


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