Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy Rosh Hashanah

 

A New Year's celebration provides a perfect opportunity to reflect on the past and to make a fresh start for the future. The Jewish New Year celebration, Rosh Hashanah, begins with the blowing of the shofar (the ram's horn) in synagogue. This marks the start of the ten High Holy Days of the Jewish calendar. 

This year Rosh Hashanah begins on Friday evening September 18, 2009 and continues through Sunday night, September 20, 2009. In the Jewish calendar it is a beginning of the year 5770.

The holiday is a period of prayer and reflection shared with one's family and friends. It's a time to ask for forgiveness for one's actions over the past year, and to commit oneself to a fresh start in the coming one. 

The Jewish faith believes that God is merciful and will forgive one’s bad deeds from the previous year. There is an excitement to begin a New Year because there are more good deeds to be done. Much of the joy of the New Year’s celebration is reflected in the holiday’s food customs. 

Among others, sweet foods are consumed on Rosh Hashanah as a symbol of a wish for a sweet year. 

In biblical times, honey was the sweetener. Honey also represented good living and wealth. The Land of Israel is often called the land of milk and honey in the Bible.

A pomegranate is often used as the new fruit on the second day of Rosh Hashanah. In the Bible, the Land of Israel is praised for its pomegranates. It is also said that this fruit contains 613 seeds just as there are 613 mitzvot. Another reason given for blessing and eating this fruit on Rosh Hashanah is that people wish that their good deeds in the ensuing year will be as plentiful as the seeds of the pomegranate.