Five Things You Didn’t Know About Rosh Hashanah

For most people fall is the beginning of the school year, but it is also the beginning of the year for Jewish people. Rosh Hashanah, which translates to “Head of the Year”, occurs in either September or October, always on the first day of Tishrei, which is the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar.

This was always one of my favorite holidays growing up. My mom’s family would come over and we would have a big dinner. This is known as seudat yom tov (festive meal). Now that I’m an adult and living away from home, this will be my second year hosting Rosh Hashanah dinner at my house for my family and friends. I love cooking old family recipes and taking the time to celebrate a new year.

Here are five things you probably didn’t know about Rosh Hashanah:

  1. It’s celebrated similarly to the way individuals celebrate New Year’s Eve.
  • This year it begins on Sunday, September 9 at sundown, and is celebrated the following day until sundown.
  • It is used as a time to reflect and plan for changes in the coming year
  • Instead of saying “Happy new year!” we say “L’shana tovah” (which roughly translates to the same thing, but it sounds cooler in Hebrew).
  1. It is part of what are called the Days of Awe
  • This ends with the beginning of another holiday, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
  • Some people grow up going to confession to repent for their sins, Jews do it all in one day. No working, and no eating from sundown to sundown. Most people will go to synagogue to pray for the day. My family just stayed home and slept in for as long as we could, and tried not to think about food.
  1. The Shofar is blown!
  • A shofar is a ram’s horn that is curved and bent. It’s hollowed out and blown during religious ceremonies to make three different sounds. Hearing it is meant to call you to repent.
  • When I was in Hebrew school as a kid this was always a really funny moment because the man who would come in to blow the shofar would get as red as a tomato.
  1. Challah is round
  • Challah is a delicious Jewish bread. You might see it in the grocery store once in a while. Usually it is long and braided. But on Rosh Hashanah it is braided into a round.
  • Some dip it in honey to emphasize a “sweet new year.”
  • We also eat apples dipped in honey. Basically it’s a lot of sweet foods to start out with.
  1. FEAST
  • Yes, more food. On Yom Kippur you can’t eat for 24 hours, so what do we do the week before? We pig out! Challah, apples and honey, kugel, brisket, and more! The best part is eating all this delicious food surrounded by loved ones. Deep reflection of your sins can make you work up quite the appetite.

Make sure to wish your Jewish friends a sweet new year on Sunday, September 9!

Jordan Rosenburg ’17 currently works within University Advancement as the Assistant Director for Annual Giving at Plymouth State University. During her time at PSU, she earned a B.A. in Communication Studies and was awarded the 2017 Outstanding Communication and Media Studies Graduating Senior Award. In addition to these accomplishments, she served as the President for the Communication Honors Society (LPH), and the Vice President of the University Film Club. In her free time, Jordan enjoys writing analysis on Television and Film.