Rosh Hashanah symbolizes a time of reflection called the aseret yamei teshuva, ten days of penitence. Jews believe that while they can find forgiveness for sins committed against the Boss, it is left to them to seek out and apologize to people they feel they have wronged in the previous year. The aseret yamei teshuva end on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Many Jews go to Synagogues for Rosh Hashanah, asking for forgiveness and pray to be inscribed in the “Book of Life” for a sweet and healthy New Year.
The most famous symbol of the holiday, the Shofar, is sounded in synagogues on Rosh Hashanah, and is critical to the obligations on Rosh Hashanah. The Shofar is fashioned from a ram’s horn. Yonah Bookstein, from the Washington Post, says, “The blasts of the Shofar are likened both to the wordless cries of the humanity speaking to God and a wake-up call to the soul which transcends rational explanation.”
“Some other cherished customs include: dipping challah and apples into honey and eating honey cake to symbolize our wish for a sweet new year; consuming huge meals with too many courses, calories, and cousins; tossing bread crumbs into living waters during a ceremony called ‘Tashlich‘ to symbolically cast away our sins; and renewing synagogue memberships.” Rosh Hashanah brings the whole family together to celebrate the New Year.
A typical greeting is שנה טובה (shaNAH toVAH) meaning “Happy New Year.” Shana means “year” and tovah means “good.” Another common greeting is שנה טובה ומתוקה (shaNAH toVAH ve metooKAH) meaning “Happy and Sweet New Year.” Metookah means “sweet.”
Wishing you all a happy, healthy and sweet New Year! Shanah Tovah!