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Rosh Hashanah FAQ

What is Rosh Hashanah?

Rosh Hashanah is the start of the civil year of the Hebrew calendar. It is the new year for people, animals, and legal contracts. It also commemorates the creation of man.

When is Rosh Hashanah?

Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown at the end of 29 Elul and lasts until sundown on 1 Tishrei (the Jewish new year).

How is Rosh Hashanah observed?

It is observed as a day of rest and activities prohibited on Shabbat are also prohibited on this day. It is characterized by the blowing of the shofer (although some sects such as Orthodox do not perform this), to awaken the listener and alert them to the coming judgment. As well, there is an extended repetition of the Amidah prayer for Shacharit and Mussaf and religious prayers are spoken.

During the first afternoon of the first day, the practice of tashlikh is observed with prayers recited near natural flowing water and sins symbolically cast into the water. Many also throw pebbles or bread into the water to symbolize this act.

Getting ready for Rosh Hashanah

Jewish members should begin self-examination and repentance beginning in Elul.

The day before Rosh Hashanah is known as Erev Rosh Hashanah. In some communities, a nullification of vows is performed. Some men also immerse in a mikveh (a ritualistic bath) in honor of Rosh Hashanah.

What to wear on Rosh Hashanah?

There isn't a strict rule on what to wear, but it is customary to wear white as a new beginning has come.

What is reading the stones of Rosh Hashanah?

Reading of the stones is a great way to honor lives lived. For many, it is customary to visit a Jewish cemetery with family and friends and speak about those lost. It is a great way for younger generations to hear about past family members and honor their lives, show grief, and pass on stories.

What are some Rosh Hashanah foods and recipes?

The new year is often symbolized through sweet meals which include apples, honeys, and pomegranates. Although, other foods such as black-eyed beans, leeks, spinach, gefilite fish, lekach, and challah are often served. Nonetheless, it is customary to avoid eating nuts since they create saliva and phlegm which makes reciting prayers difficult.

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