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Rosh Hashanah


Cultural events are listed here with basic background details. For specific events, dates, and times, please see the Featured Events on the Cultural Calendar main page.




Rosh Hashanah is believed by the Jews to be the birth of the universe, the day G-d created Adam and Eve, it is celebrated as the head of the Jewish year. The first two days of the Jewish new year Tishrei 1 and 2 begin at sundown on the eve of Tishrei 1. Rosh Hashanah 2022 begins at sundown on September 25th and continues through nightfall on September 27th. Candle lighting in the evenings, festive meals with sweet delicacies during the night and day and prayer services which include the sounding of the shofar (ram's horn) on both mornings and ceasing from creative work. The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah translates as "head of the year." Similar to the head that controls the body, our actions on Rosh Hashanah have a tremendous impact on the rest of the year. In the Rosh Hashanah prayers, it is said, each year on this day, all inhabitants of the world pass before G-d like a flock of sheep and it is then decreed in the heavenly court, who shall live and who shall die, who shall be impoverished and who shall be enriched, who shall fall and who shall rise. Rosh Hashanah is a day of prayers, a time to ask The Almighty to grant us a year of peace, prosperity and blessing.  It is also a joyous day when G-d is proclaimed King of the universe. The Kabbalists teach that the continued existence of the universe depends on G-d's desire for a world, a desire that is renewed when we accept His kingship anew each year on Rosh Hashanah.

The main observance of Rosh Hashanah is the sounding of the shofar on both days of the holiday, except if the first day is Shabbat, in which case, the shofar is blown only on the second day. 30 blasts of shofar are blown following the reading of the Torah during the morning services, and as many as 70 additional are blown during (and immediately after) the Musaf service, adding up to 100 blasts over the course of the Rosh Hashanah morning services. Some communities sound another round of 30 blasts after services. For people who are unable to attend the service at the synagogue, the shofar may be heard the rest of the day. If a person is not able to leave their home, the Chabad Centre can be contacted to arrange a house call. The shofar blowing contains a series of three types of blasts: tekiah - a long sob-like blast, shevarim: a series of three wails, and teruah: at least nine piercing staccato bursts. The blowing of the shofar represents the trumpet blast that is sounded at a king's coronation. It has a mournful cry, which also serves as a call to repentance. The shofar itself recalls the binding of Isaac, a biblical event that occurred on Rosh Hashanah, in which a ram replaced Isaac as the sacrificial offering to G-d. 

On the first night of Rosh Hashanah, the greeting to a male is: "Leshanah Tovah tikatev vetichatem," for a female: "Leshanah Tovah tikatevee vetichatemee," which means, (May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year). At other times, wish them a "Gemar chatimah Tovah" (A good inscription and sealing in the Book of Life). As with any major Jewish holiday, women and girls' light candles on each evening of Rosh Hashanah and recite the appropriate blessings. On the second night, an existing flame is used to light the candles, and whilst reciting the Shehechiyanu blessing, observers might contemplate on a new fruit to eat or a garment to wear. On the first afternoon of Rosh Hashanah (provided that it is not Shabbat), it is customary to go to a body of water (ocean, river, pond, etc) and perform the Tashlich ceremony, in which sins are ritually cast away into the depths of the waters. Much of Rosh Hashanah is spent in the synagogues, where prayers are submitted to G-d to grant all His creations a sweet new year. The evening and afternoon prayers are similar to the prayers said on a conventional holiday, though notably longer. 

Festive meals are eaten every night of Rosh Hashanah. The feast precedes reciting a kiddish over wine, and blessings over the bread like other holiday meals, with the exception of the bread traditionally baked into round challah loaves and often sprinkled with raisins dipped into honey, instead of salt, which expresses the wish for a sweet year. It is traditional to begin the meal on the first night with slices of apple; the ha'eitz blessing is recited with the saying: "May it be Your will to renew for us a good and sweet year." Many people eat parts of the head of a fish or a ram, expressing that: "we be the head and not the tail." In a lot of communities, there are additional foods eaten, each symbolising a wish for the coming year. Many eat pomegranates, giving voice to a wish that our merits be many, like the seed of the pomegranates. Another common food is tzimmes: a sweet carrot-based dish eaten because of its Yiddish name, Merren, which means both carrot and increase. This is a symbolic wish for a year of abundance. It is customary to avoid nuts as well as vinegar-based foods and sharp foods, most especially the horse radish traditionally eaten with geflite fish, since it may incur a bitter year. On the second night of the holiday, apples, fish heads and pomegranates are not eaten, instead, something that has not been tasted since the last time it was in season is eaten. Rosh Hashanah is the start of the Yamim Nora'im (High Holidays). The season of the High Holidays is a time for an epic journey for the soul, and Rosh Hashanah is where it all begins. 


Key Terms: Jewish New Year-Jewish Holiday-Candle lighting in evenings-Festive meals-sweet delicacies at night-Prayer Services-Sound of ram's horn (shofar).


From sunset of Sunday, September 25th to sunset evening of Tuesday, September 27th, 2022. 

Dates change every year - check events page for future dates.



Rosh Hashanah

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