Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, took place this past week and began at sundown on Sept. 20 and continued through nightfall on Sept. 22. When translated, Rosh Hashanah means “head of the year.” It celebrates the first two days of the Jewish calendar and begins on the first day of Tishrei, the first month of the Jewish civil year.
According to Judaism, Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the year because it is the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and women according to the Hebrew Bible. David Cohen, a member of the Jewish faith from Clovis says, “I’ve always thought of it like, just like the head controls the body, what we do on Rosh Hashanah has a huge impact on the remainder of the year.”
One of the main observances is the sounding of the shofar, a horn carved from a ram’s horn. The horn is blown over 100 times over the course of the holiday, followed by readings of the Torah. This is symbolic of trumpet blasts at a king’s coronation. Its plaintive cry also serves as an overall call of repentance to have a fresh new year.
Eating special foods is key when celebrating Rosh Hashanah, particularly sweet bread topped with raisins and dipped in honey. This is also done with apple slices to express the wish that the year be sweet. The opposite is also true of sour and bitter foods such as the horseradish, as these are avoided for fear of making the new year bitter. In some households, it is common to eat pomegranates, giving voice to a wish that someone’s merits be plentiful like the seeds of the pomegranate.
Among Jewish people, saying the phrase “L’Shanah Tovah” to each other is common, which means “May you have a good year” in Hebrew. It is a celebration so that the new year will be bountiful and prosperous. Rosh Hashanah marks the culmination of the 10 Days of Awe, a period of introspection and repentance that ends with Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of Atonement.