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20 October 2014
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Rosh Hashanah - 25 September 2014

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Rabbis in IsrealRosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year festival. It lasts two days.

It commemorates the creation of the world.

Rosh Hashanah is also a judgement day, when Jews believe that God balances a person's good deeds over the last year against their bad deeds, and decides what the next year will be like for them.

It's a time for people to think about their priorities in life and to reflect on what has been achieved in the past year.

It's a time of asking for forgiveness for wrongdoings (sins)

It's a chance for Jews to ask questions about their actions throughout the year. Questions considered during Rosh Hashanah include:

  • What's the most meaningful thing in my life?
  • Who in my life means the most to me? How often do I let them know this?
  • What are the most significant things I've achieved in the past year?
  • What do I hope to achieve next year and in my life generally?

Essan Alte SynagogueIn the synagogue

A lot of time is spent in the synagogue during Rosh Hashanah.

One of the synagogue rituals for Rosh Hashanah is the blowing of the Shofar, a ram's horn trumpet. A hundred notes are sounded in a special rhythm.

The sound of the shofar starts a ten-day period known as the 'Days of Awe', which ends with the solemn festival of Yom Kippur.

Listen Listen to a demonstration of the shofar

After the service a special meal is eaten at home, including:

  • apples dipped in honey, a symbol of the sweet New Year that each Jew hopes lies ahead
  • a sweet carrot stew called a tzimmes is often served
  • Hallah (or Challah) bread in a round loaf, rather than the plaited loaf served on the Sabbath, so as to symbolise a circle of life and of the year
  • often a pomegranate on the table because of a tradition that pomegranates have 613 seeds, one for each of the commandments that a Jew is obliged to keep.

Judaism events and festivals

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