From the evening of September 15th to that of September 18th, 2023, Rosh Hashanah 2023 is celebrated. This date marks the beginning of a period of introspection culminating in the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. It’s a time to review the year’s actions and seek a renewal of the spirit.
Rosh Hashanah 2023: Meaning and Importance of the Hebrew New Year
How Rosh Hashanah is Celebrated: Traditions and Reflections of the Jewish New Year
This Hebrew lunar new year takes place over the first two days of the month of Tishrei. According to scripture, God created the universe on this date. A 10-day period of introspection begins, ending with Yom Kippur, a day to reflect on past actions and achieve spiritual renewal.
Everything begins in Judaism with the appearance of the new moon of Elul, the last solar month before Rosh Hashanah. Throughout this month, the shofar (ram’s horn) sounds every morning, inviting Jews to reflect and prepare for the upcoming religious festivities.
It is predominantly celebrated in the synagogue, marked by prayers, silent reflections of the heart, and the deep echo of the shofar.
On this special day, families gather to share dinners featuring traditional delicacies for the Jewish New Year.
Tradition and Taste: The Symbolism of the Rosh Hashanah Dinner
Apples and Honey: The Sweet Start of the Jewish New Year
The gathering typically includes grandparents, parents, children, siblings, and uncles. Sometimes, close friends are invited, but it’s primarily a family event. The table is meticulously decorated, showcasing the finest china, glassware, and silverware.
Apples and honey are essential, representing the hoped-for sweetness in the upcoming year. Honey heralds a future year full of sweet moments. Challah bread is savored, and lighter dishes like fish or chicken sweetened with honey are preferred, accompanied by a glass of sweet wine in remembrance.
A unique feature is placing a fish head on the table, alluding to the desire to “lead and not follow”, as taught by the sages. Additionally, sweet and fresh seasonal fruits are enjoyed.
During dinner, the ritual of dipping an apple slice into honey is performed while expressing good wishes for the future. As a final touch, it’s essential to enjoy a piece of honey cake. When toasting and wishing each other well, one says “shaná tová, jatimá tová”, hoping the upcoming year is positive and decisive.
Yamim Noraim: Reflection and Forgiveness on the Solemn Days of Judaism
From Nisan to Tishrei: The Evolution of the Date of the Jewish New Year
These are grouped under the term “Solemn Days” (Yamim Noraim). They are moments for reflection and self-criticism, to analyze and evaluate our past decisions and behaviors. On Yom Kippur, it’s a tradition to apologize for mistakes made and commit not to repeat them.
During this time, forgiveness is sought, and reconciliation with those with whom disagreements or misunderstandings have occurred is essential.
There are two perspectives on when the Jewish New Year should begin: according to the Bible, the month marking the exit from Egypt, Nisan (corresponding to March-April), should be the first month of the year (as mentioned in Exodus 12:2).
However, over time, Jewish tradition defined the beginning of the year in the month of Tishrei (equivalent to September-October). This time, commemorating Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish New Year, is recognized for celebrating God’s creation of the first human being: Adam.
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur: Days of Reflection and Redemption in Judaism
The Yamim Noraim: From Divine Evaluation to the Direction of the Year in Jewish Tradition
The echo of the shofar resonates, summoning Jews to introspection, reflection, and change. It marks the beginning of days dedicated to prayer, contrition, and benevolence, culminating in Yom Kippur (Day of Redemption).
This day is also known as the Day of Judgment and the Day of Remembrance. According to belief, on Rosh Hashanah, God evaluates humanity and lays out three books: one for the wicked (destined for death), one for the righteous (reserved for life), and a third for those whose fate is decided on Yom Kippur.
Rosh Hashanah, which means ‘Beginning of the Year’, along with Yom Kippur, or ‘Day of Atonement’, constitute the Yamim Noraim (Solemn Days) in Jewish tradition. They are days of introspection and abstinence, evaluation of past actions, specific prayers, and deep empathy.
The first day of Tishrei is not just the start of the calendar; it’s also the guide for the upcoming year. Just as the head directs the body, this day sets the course for the following months.
Welcome the Jewish New Year with these must-reads: