The Jewish New Year - Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur
Rosh Hashanah 2020
Rosh Hashanah is one of the holiest days in Judaism and is the Jewish New Year. The festival literally translates to “head of the year.” The Rosh Hashanah 2020 (as any other Rosh Hashana) is held during the starting of the month of Tishrei, the Jewish calendar’s seventh month.
The seventh month symbolizes Sabbath, referring to the day when God began to rest after creating the world. Like all the years, Rosh Hashanah is a time of celebrating mirth and joy. But as per Jewish culture, the people are required to look back and introspect their past-selves.
The video below was taken on 2016, on a Slichot prayer held at the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem, before Rosh Hashanah. Tens of thousands of people sing the most famous piyyut (religious Jewish poetry) “Lord of Forgiveness”
Rosh Hashanah in the Bible
Rosh Hashanah is derived from three Hebrew words, “Rosh” meaning “head,” “Ha” meaning “the” and “shanah” meaning year. Hence, the entire word means The Head of the year.
The mention of Rosh Hashanah is made only once in the Bible (Ezekiel 4p:1), but the meaning is different and it translates to “beginning of the year.” In Jewish holy books, Rosh Hashanah is also referred to as Yom Hazikaron or the day of remembrance. In Hebrew culture, Rosh Hashanah marks the celebration of God’s largest creation, the creation of Man.
When does Rosh Hashanah start on 2020-2025?
Rosh Hashanah is going to vary each year. Every year, it is celebrated on the 1st and 2nd day of Tishrei. Here are the Rosh Hashanah dates from 2020 to 2025:
- 2020: 18 September (sundown) to 20 October (nightfall)
- 2021: 6 September (sundown) to 8 September (nightfall)
- 2022: 25 September (sundown) to 27 September (nightfall)
- 2023: 15 September (sundown) to 17 September (nightfall)
- 2024: 2 October (sundown) to 4 October (nightfall)
- 2025: 22 September (sundown) to 24 September (nightfall)
Why is Rosh Hashanah important?
As stated earlier, Rosh Hashanah is said to be celebrated on the day when God sat down to rest after shaping one of his best creations, The World. Furthermore, it celebrates the “creation of mankind.”
Rosh Hashanah also leads to the beginning of the “Period of Awe” for 10 days. As per the Jewish people and Jewish holy books, during the Period of Awe, God judges the people deciding whether they will live in the coming year or die. All the ones with noble deeds make their way to the “book of life” while the evil ones, who do not repent their past evil deeds are condemned to death.
The Jewish people perform “teshuvah” or repentance from the day of Rosh Hashanah to the day of Yom Kippur. It is said that during this time, the Jews reflect on their good and bad deeds of the past, repenting and trying to make changes for the later one.
Rosh Hashanah meaning
Rosh Hashanah means “the Head of the year” or ‘first of the year,” marking the beginning of one of the most important and holiest days for the Jews. Rosh Hashanah 2020 will see the coming together of Jewish people in these hard times, to celebrate their holy festival.
Although Rosh Hashanah begins in the month of Tishrei as per Jewish Calendar, but, as per Gregorian Calendar, it always falls during the end of September or the beginning of October.
How is Rosh Hashanah celebrated?
The celebration of Rosh Hashanah begins with the people attending services at the synagogue (Jewish church). In these services, the Jewish people are praying from High Holidays’ prayer book. Shofar blowing, however, happens to be one of the most important events of Rosh Hashanah. In Torah, Rosh Hashanah refers to “the day of the blast,” hence, the blowing of the shofar suggests the blast.
Since it is the beginning of a new year, family members come together to celebrate the Holy day. The Rosh Hashanah afternoons are reserved for people who participate in Tashlich, a practice in which people throw bread crumbs in flowing water as a gesture for acceptance and getting away from their sins that they have committed in the past year.
On the first evening, after the prayer in the synagogue, people return to their homes to enjoy a festive meal, a mark of the Jewish culture’s symbolism and tradition.
As a mark for the importance of Rosh Hashanah celebrations, many people also prefer adorning new clothes, decorating the table with fine linens and sending out positive and good wishes to their family members. People send each other Judaica gifts to mark the love and respect between each other.
Here are some of the best ideas for Rosh Hashanah tradition:
Indulge in Self Reflection and Study
As stated, Rosh Hashanah is the time for reflecting on the past good and bad deeds. So, one should focus on self-care and indulge in some spirituality. You can indulge in the love between God and yourself and make way for a positive Life.
Make children a part of celebrations
Rosh Hashanah 2020 can be a great time to bond with family. During the Days of Awe, parents and elders can ask their children to help them prepare and set up the table. Also, you can read them stories of Jewish culture and traditions.
Remember the loved ones
Many people also prefer visiting the graves of their loved ones during the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It is considered one great way to feel more connected to them by reflecting on their lives.
Listen to the sound of High Holidays
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are known as the days of the High Holidays. Shofar is heard during Shabbat’s months that mark a reminder to the Jews to start off with their celebrations.
Rosh Hashanah Greetings
Attending a Rosh Hashanah festival will require you to greet your relatives. Some of the formal and informal Rosh Hashanah Greetings that you can make to your loved ones include
- Shanah Tovah um’tukah- May you have a good and sweet new year.
- L’shanah Tovah tikateivu v’teichateimu- I wish you God would write and sign you for good in the Book of Life
- Shanah tovah- a Good year
Manu people also greet each other using Chag Sameach but strictly these terms are used only during the three major pilgrimage festivals, such as Sukkot, Shavout and Passover. Along with the greetings, Jews send each other Judaica as a token of love and respect.
Rosh Hashana services
The evening services during the Nights of the Jewish festival Rosh Hashanah are very brief and do not last anytime longer than half an hour. The services begin with Barchu and are continued by Shema and blessings. Rosh Hashanah’s night services may be longer if the first festival falls on the same day as Shabbat.
Comparatively, the morning services of Rosh Hashanah are lengthier with Shacharit and Musaf taking around 4 to 5 hours.
As a mark of Rosh Hashanah services, the Torah Readings are done from the Ark. The special prayers are offered from the Torah readings to invoke the Divine Power.
Shofar Blowing is one of the main services during Rosh Hashanah. The shofar blowers recite the Preparatory Psalms and bless the people, post which they blow the shofar.
Afternoons are usually reserved for opening prayers and they’re very brief. The afternoon prayer consists of
- An opening prayer
- Amidah prayer
- The Chazzan repeating the Amidah
- Avinu Malkenu recital
- Ending Aleinu prayer
On the day of Rosh Hashanah, the shofar is blown at the Jewish synagogue as one of the main services. The same is played at the end of Yom Kippur too. Shofar is usually made of animals and comes in different finishes. Hence, it is available in different shapes and sizes.
The shofar is made from a horned animal, mostly a Ram, but it is also made of Greater Kudu’s horn. However, depending on the choice of animal, the size would vary too. As per Jewish customs, a shofar is blown around 100 to 101 times a day during Rosh Hashanah. Shofar blasts are essential during the penitential rituals like Yom Kippur Katan.
Rosh Hashanah Kiddush
The Kiddush blessings of Rosh Hashanah are one of a kind. It marks the theme of remembrance of the past, repentance of past deeds, blowing God’s shofar and Kingship. Hence, during this time it is considered to be a holy one. According to the Rosh Hashanah Kiddush, the blessing is provided over a wine, thereby leading to the entire day’s sanctification.
Rosh Hashana recipes
Mostly Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews conduct Tashlich or Tashlikh on the first day’s afternoon of Rosh Hashanah. All the observers stand in front of flowing water and recite prayers, symbolic of washing away their sins. Mostly people throw bread crumbs into the flowing water to get rid of their past sins. If the first day of Rosh Hashanah and Shabbat is held on the same day, Tashlich is postponed to the next day.
Tashlich can be performed as public and personal prayers. Although a major individual tradition, in today’s time, Tashlich is mostly conducted in groups. A lot of people from the Hasidic communities prefer carrying out Tashlikh a day before Yom Kippur.
What to say on Rosh Hashanah?
Happy New Year is the most common greeting during Rosh Hashanah, because it is one of the major New Year’s too. However, for Jews, there is an equivalent saying to wish each other, Shana Tovah, referring to “good year”.
The Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews wish each other with “tizku l’shaneem tovot” meaning ‘may you merit many years’. The response to this should be “tizkeh v’tihyeh le’orech yamim” translating to ‘May you merit life- long life!’ If you come across someone during the festival of Rosh Hashanah you may also wish them with “gut yomtiff” referring to “good day” and “Chag Sameach” translating to “happy holidays.”
But the most common greeting for Rosh Hashanah, other than Shana Tova (Happy New Year), is “Ktiva Ve’Hatima tova” which means: Good writing and signature.
As mentioned earlier, according to Jewish tradition, God judges each and every person and decides on his/her destiny next year, on Rosh Hashanah, and writes his decision in the Book of Life (a metaphor of course). That is why the Jews wish each other good writing and signature by God, in the Book of Life.
Do Jews work on Rosh Hashanah?
No. The Jewish festival Rosh Hashanah is celebrated as the day of rest and not labour. According to the Torah, one shouldn’t do any kind of work during Rosh Hashanah or any other major festival. Even God took rest that day, so why would any human work?
Rosh Hashanah symbols
Apple and Honey
Apple and honey appear to be the major Rosh Hashanah food but they hold the significance of bringing sweetness for everyone the following year.
Round Challah and Raisins
The round challah studded with raisins stands for the continuity of the calendar mixed with some sweetness.
The numerous seeds of pomegranate signify prosperity and the desire to conduct many commandments in the coming years.
The shofar is meant to awaken the hearers and make them repent so that God will judge them for good. According to Jewish tradition it is also meant to confuse the devil and forget to slander the people of Israel.
Rosh Hashanah For Kids
Here’s some significant information about Rosh Hashanah for kids:
- Most of the time during Rosh Hashanah is celebrated in a synagogue as no major work is allowed. Being the day of rest, people spend their time worshiping.
- Every good consumed during Rosh Hashanah has some meaning associated with them. Apples and bread are served dipped in honey, signifying the sweetness for the coming times.
- Fish is one of the major dishes served during Rosh Hashanah, marking prosperity and fertility.
- As a practice to cast off the previous year’s sins, the observers throw bread crumbles in the flowing water.
- Elders should involve their kids in the Rosh Hashanah preparations to make them aware of their culture and traditions.
Rosh Hashanah Quotes
Here are some of the major Rosh Hashanah quotes to be sent to your loved ones.
Rosh Hashanah Coloring book
Rosh Hashanah marks the day of rest and celebration. Hence, a range of coloring pages will help the kids have a good time with it. These coloring pages are easily available online and can be downloaded as being of printable nature.
Yom Kippur 2020
Yom Kippur refers to the Day of Atonement and is one of the holiest days of Judaism. The main themes of Yom Kippur include repentance and atonement of personal sins. This festival is celebrated by most of the secular Jews. There is a gap of eight days from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur.
For Yom Kippur, the Jews observe a fast for 25 hours with intensive prayer. Being the day of rest, it also marks the people spending most of their time in the synagogue practicing the services. According to Jewish culture, Yom Kippur is the “Sabbath of Sabbaths.” The observers ask for forgiveness of the sins of their past years from God.
When does Yom Kippur start?
The Yom Kippur or the day of atonement usually starts right days after Rosh Hashanah. The Yom Kippur 2020-2022 dates include
- 2020: 27 September (sunset) to 28 September (nightfall)
- 2021: 15 September (sunset) to 16 September (nightfall)
- 2022: 4 October (sunset) to 5 October (nightfall)
- 2023: 24 September (sunset) to 25 September (nightfall)
- 2024: 11 October (sunset) to 12 October (nightfall)
- 2025: 1 October (sunset) to 2 October (nightfall)
Yom Kippur in the Bible
The mention of Yom Kippur is made twice in the Bible: twice in Leviticus and in the Book of Numbers. In the Leviticus 16:29, God orders mankind to refrain from working and repent for their sins on the tenth day of the seventh month (Tishrei). Again, in the 23rd chapters of Leviticus, there is a repetition to observe Yom Kippur. According to the commandment, any person who doesn’t observe a fast on the day of Yom Kippur or indulges himself in any kind of work, they will not be blessed with the Book of Life.
In the 29th century, there is a repetition once again about Yom Kippur referring to the sacrifices that should be observed on the same day.
Yom Kippur Atonement
During the time of Yom Kippur, the people perform atonement as repentance of their sins. Not only do they repent for their personal but also national sins. They observe prayer and fasting and stay away from their physical desires.
Why is Yom Kippur the holiest month?
According to the Jewish culture, Yom Kippur is the holy time of the Jewish year. The people involve themselves in asking for forgiveness from God to improve their fate. Hence, it is the Sabbath of Sabbaths, a day in which one must cleanse their soul of all the past sins.
Yom Kippur Traditions
Pre-Yom Kippur feast: During the eve of Yom Kippur, the families and friends come together for a delicious feast before sunset. They indulge in fasting for 25 long hours, so they feast together to get enough strength.
Charity: Charity finds an important place in Jewish culture. On Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, a lot of people indulge in charity, to seek forgiveness from God. They donate money or chicken to the poor after reciting the prayer.
Wearing white: White is an important color and also the sign for purity. Many Jewish men adorn themselves in white kittles.
Breaking the fast: After the service, everyone returns to their home to indulge in a delicious meal. They consume foods like baked goods and noodle pudding.
Greetings for Yom Kippur
Happy Yom Kippur happens to be the best wish, but some other greetings for Yom Kippur include
- Tsom Kal, meaning Have an easy feast
- Good Yomtiff or Yom Tov, meaning Have a Good Holy day
- Gmar Hatimah Tovah or Gmar Tov, meaning: I wish you God would sign you for good in the Book of Life
- Shana Tovah, meaning Good Year
Yom Kippur wishes
The wish for Yom Kippur includes Chag Sameach signifying Happy Holiday which is used for most of the holidays in the Jewish festival. However, Shana Tova happens to be the most common wish, meaning Good Year, since it marks the beginning of a new Year.
What does Yom Kippur mean?
Yom Kippur is a Hebrew word, meaning, The Day of Atonement. The day is called so because Jewish people spend most of their time repenting for their sins. The Jewish people observe a complete fast and refrain from indulging themselves in any kind of work, since it is the rest’s day.
Apart from fasting, people also refrain from wearing leather, bathing, wearing perfumes, and practicing martial relations or physical desires.
Why do Jews fast during Yom Kippur?
Yom Kippur marks the beginning of teshuva, or the period of atonement, which starts during the month of Ellul and continues till Rosh Hashanah.
The Jewish people are called to acknowledge their sins and not do anything. The Jewish people spend their time at the synagogue and observe a time for self-introspection and reflection.
They apologize for every wrong they have done and forgiven those who have done any wrong.
Yom Kippur Services
Like Rosh Hashanah, certain Yom Kippur services need to be followed too. These include:
- Kol Nidrei: The evening service that marks the commencement of Yom Kippur.
- Shacharit: with the Torah reading commences the first morning service.
- Musaf: Followed by Shacharit is the second Torah reading.
- Mincha: During the afternoon service, a Torah reading is followed by Jonah’s book’s reading.
- Neilah: This is the ending or final service.
Prayers for Yom Kippur
The Kol Nidrei is the first communal prayer service and begins after the sunset of Yom Kippur. Kol Nidrei refers to “All Vows.” The daytime service of Yom Kippur is referred to as teshuvah, when people indulge in the practice of forgiveness. To amend our relationship with God, we must apologize and seek forgiveness and work towards solving our sins.
Then, the Jewish people are required to indulge in Viddui or confession. In this prayer, the community recites the Hebrew alphabets talking of all the sins they’ve committed whether individually or collectively as a society.
Yom Kippur forgiveness prayer
During Yom Kippur’s forgiveness prayer, the Jews are required to confess their sins and ask for forgiveness with a desire for improvement.
Yom Kippur Break Fast
According to Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah traditions, often the breakfast is held at the synagogue. Bagels and schmear happen to be a common Yom Kippur breakfast. But there are other Yom Kippur foods too to be rated for breakfast. Some of the classic breakfast items include
- Greek Chopped Salad with Grilled Pita
- Pomegranate, Avocado and Citrus Brussels Sprouts Salads
- Creamy Carrot and Herb Linguine
- Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole with Peas and Breadcrumbs
- Buttermilk Dill Sauce
- Baked Vegetable Lasagna
What do Jews do on Yom Kippur?
During Yom Kippur, the Jews observe a day of fast, worship God, seek forgiveness, practice services and read prayer books during the holy days. Once the end of the service, after the Yom Kippur, the priests blow a shofar or ram’s horn to mark the ending of Yom Kippur. The Jews break their fast and indulge in a day-long feast with their loved ones.
Since most Jews fast on Yom Kippur, those who do not go to synagogue spend most of the day at home. On the eve of the holiday, crowds take to the streets, stroll with the kids, meet friends and take advantage of the time for social gatherings. The roads are completely deserted. This is the only day of the year when traffic in Israel is completely stopped, except for police vehicles and ambulances.
Yom Kippur symbols
Before the holiday, the family gathers and eats a break meal, one last meal before the fast begins and the walk to the synagogue. Although it is a pre-fast meal, it should be easy to digest and not too heavy. No spicy or too salty food. Foods to eat at such a meal: Chicken soup or vegetable soup, vegetables, carbohydrates (potatoes or rice).
White is a symbol of purity. Hence, it is the time when every Jew indulges in spiritual cleansing. Also, the color white is a representation of humility and repentance.
The playing of the shofar for a long time marks the conclusion or end of the Holy holidays. This is also a marking of the Jewish community’s win over their sins.
Yom Kippur for Kids
Yom Kippur is a major celebration for Jewish kids as they get to feast along with their elders. As stated above, Yom Kippur surely has some of the best dishes to relish on. The festival is celebrated ten days after Rosh Hashanah.
Unlike elders, Jewish kids below the age of nine years aren’t bound to keep a fast to observe Yom Kippur. It is on them whether they wish to keep the fast or not.
Yom Kippur Quotes
What does Rosh Hashanah mean?
Rosh Hashanah is the marking of Jewish new year. It means the Head of the Year. It is derived from the Hebrew word “rosh” meaning “head,” “ha” is an article meaning “the” and shanah meaning year. Hence, the Head of the year. As per Biblical meaning, it is referred to as Yom Teruah, meaning the day of blasting or shouting.
How many days is Rosh Hashanah?
Rosh Hashanah is a two day festival. But collectively there is a 10 day period known as the “Days of Awe” which ends with Yom Kippur.
Can you use your phone on Rosh Hashanah?
The traditional Jewish methodologies abstain from the use of any technology during Rosh Hashanah, same as Shabbat and any other religious Jewish holiday. There are other holidays like Chanuka or Purim that phone and any other technology usage is allowed. Secular Jews who come to synagogues to hear the holiday prayers do not bring phones to the synagogues, although in their homes they will use the phone, watch television and behave as usual.
What is prohibited on Rosh Hashanah?
The status of Jewish holidays is determined by their Halakhic source. Rosh Hashanah, like Pesach, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Shavuot, were set during the Torah period and therefore these holidays are like Shabbat (and Yom Kippur even more). No work is allowed on Rosh Hashanah. It is forbidden to turn on electricity (ie, it is forbidden to use any electrical device, including a computer,
Internet, cell phone, TV, etc …), it is forbidden to cook (prepare the food in advance and heat it on a special hotplate) and there are other prohibitions, identical to those of Shabbat.
Is it OK to work on Rosh Hashanah?
No. As per Jewish law, Rosh Hashanah is the day of rest, when God set out to rest peacefully after creating the world. Hence, as per traditions, one should indulge in mirth and seek forgiveness for previous crimes and not work.
What is celebrated on Rosh Hashanah?
The Jewish people celebrate God’s greatest creation, mankind and the world. Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of a new year, when every person is expected to repent for their sins and start a new pious way to life.
Is Yom Kippur the holiest day?
According to Jewish tradition, Yom Kippur is the holiest day. Yom Kippur is celebrated eight days after Rosh Hashanah and Jewish people set out to synagogues to pray, to to fast and ask for forgiveness of their previous sins. God’s decision supposed to add an extra year to the life of Jewish people when the person seeks forgiveness.
What food is eaten on Yom Kippur?
The Jewish people observe a fast during Yom Kippur, as a repentance to their sins. A scrumptious meal is laid down during Yom Kippur such as challah dipped in honey, bread, apple glazed chicken, kreplach or studded dumplings and rice. Other foods eaten during Yom Kippur include
- Chicken soup
- Meatballs or roast beef
- Baked potatoes or rice
- Meatballs or roast beef
- Cooked vegetables
- Fresh vegetables (salads)
- Leeks, Chard and Spinach
- At least two liter water during the day, before the beginning of the fast
What breaks the fast for Yom Kippur?
A classic Yom Kippur menu would be the best solution for breaking the fast. Wouldn’t it? The foods that help to break the fast for Yom Kippur include:
Can I drink water on Yom Kippur?
According to orthodox Judaism, every food and drink is prohibited during the fasting of Yom Kippur. Hence, it’s recommended eating healthy foods and drinking enough water during the pre-Yom Kippur celebrations to hydrate one’s body and prepare for the water-free fast.
Is Yom Kippur in the Bible?
Yes. The Leviticus 16:29 states that the 10th day of 7th month is the day of repentance or atonement of past sins. Hence, the day is referred to as Sabbath of Sabbaths.
The Leviticus 23:27 further mandates that Yom Kippur is the day of complete rest.
What does Yom Yom mean?
Yom refers to ‘day.’ Kippur means Atonement. Atonement for our deeds. On this day of judgement, we should ask and pray god for atonement for our sins.
Can you work on Yom Kippur?
In Israel, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are legal off days but it’s not the same in any other country. The Jewish law abstains Jews from working on the High Holidays. Hence, as per Leviticus 23:27, Yom Kippur is the day of complete rest. Instead of working on Yom Kippur, one must repent their sins and pray to God for forgiveness and addition of another beautiful year to the Book of Life.
How long do Jews fast for Yom Kippur?
The Jews observe a 25 hour long fast on the day of Yom Kippur. They are prohibited from the consumption of food items and water.
What is Yom Kippur celebrating?
Since Yom Kippur is spent in long prayers in synagogues, asking for forgiveness and mercy from God and fasting for a long time, the atmosphere is not a carnival atmosphere … it is a pretty heavy day. But because the Jews are an optimistic people, on the end of Yom Kippur there is an atmosphere of elation and everyone assumes that God has accepted our prayers and forgiven our sins. Immediately on the evening, at the end of Yom Kippur, after breaking the fast, religious Jews start to build Sukkah, for the Sukkot holiday that take place a few days later.
What is the best thing to say to someone for Yom Kippur?
The best greeting for Yom Kippur to someone who’s observing a fast would be ‘have an easy fast’. The most common greeting is: “Gmar Hatima Tova”, which means: may God will sign you for good in the book of life.
What do Jews do on Yom Kippur?
The Jews visit the synagogue and read prayers from the prayer book (Sidur). They abstain from work, physical desires and fast for a period of 25 hours. At the end of services, the shofar is blown to mark the end of Yom Kippur. Hence, the Jews can then break their fast and indulge in a grand feast.
What is the main purpose of Yom Kippur?
The main aim of Yom Kippur is to cleanse and purify one’s soul by seeking genuine repentance for one’s sins from the Almighty, the Divine Power. Hence, Jews refrain from anything that appears sinful to them, especially indulgence in physical pleasures.