10 Facts About Rosh Hashanah cont.

This article continues to present interesting facts regarding the Jewish holiday, Rosh Hashanah , commonly known as the Jewish New Year. You will learn about the theme behind the celebration, fruits that carry specific meanings, and traditional foods served during the holiday.

3.    The majority of the day is spent in a synagogue, as no work is allowed on Rosh Hashanah. Specialized services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur take place, which typically last longer than the average time of worship. A theme of God’s sovereignty takes center stage at both services.

4.    While other holidays in the Jewish faith may involve fasting, Rosh Hashanah does not. Actually, certain foods are prepared for Rosh Hashanah and carry specific meanings. For example, apples and bread dipped in honey represents a sweet new year to come. After dipping the apple in honey, a blessing is said over the fruit (“Blessed are You, Lord our God, king of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree. Amen.”), which is followed by a short prayer after taking a bite of the apple: “May it be Your will, Lord our God and God of our ancestors, that you renew for us a good and sweet year.”

5.    When greeting one another, a common salutation is L’shanah tovah (which means “for a good year”).

6.    Any other time, challah bread is braided and served at the Jewish dinner table during ceremonial gatherings, but during Rosh Hashanah, it is often baked into round creations to serve as symbols of the cyclical nature of the year. Raisins are added to signify a sweet new year. Some people will shape their bread to look like a ladder or a bird as a way to symbolize their desire that the prayers of the family would make their way to heaven. Sometimes, the bread is dipped in honey to symbolize the sweetness they wish to take place in the coming years.

7.    In the future, Rosh Hashanah will take place on sunset of September 8, 2010 to nightfall of September 10, 2010; sunset of September 28, 2011 to nightfall of September 30, 2011; and the sunset of September 16, 2012 to nightfall on September 18, 2012.

8.    When eating a traditional Rosh Hashanah meal, you will find that fish is a typical dish served , known as a traditional symbol of fertility and prosperity. Since its eyes are always open, the creature represents knowledge. It is customary for the head of the fish to be placed in front of the head of household, where a prayer is said: “May it be your will that we be like the head (leaders) and not like the tail (followers).”

9.    Interestingly, the number of seeds that the pomegranate is believed to possess (613) is the same number of mitzvot (commandments) associated with the Jewish faith. It is thought that the fruit serves as a reminder to God of how obedient a family has been during the previous year.

10.    In a ceremonious tradition of ‘casting off’ the sins committed during the previous year, observers of the Jewish faith may participate in an old custom called Tashlikh (which translates into ‘casting off’). With bread crumbs in hand or tossing the contents of their pockets, worshippers will walk to a creek or river in a symbolic gesture of tossing away their sins. Usually, this ritual takes place on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah. Depending on your community, the Tashlikh is known as a rather social event.