Rosh Hashanah: Preparing for the (sweet) Jewish New Year 5776

SUNSET SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 13: Blasts from the shofar and rich dishes made with honey mean it’s Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year—and it’s also the start of the High Holidays.

On the first and second days of the Jewish month of Tishri, Rosh Hashanah is celebrated by Jews around the world. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means “head of the year,” or “first of the year,” and many Jews use this period of time to make resolutions and commitments for self-improvement. Sins are “cast” into a river and honey is consumed for hopes of a sweet New Year.

Do you know someone who is Jewish? Wish him or her L’shanah tovah—“For a good year!”

On Rosh Hashanah, work is not permitted and many more traditional adherents spend the day in the synagogue. The shofar, a ram’s horn blown like a trumpet, is one of the holiday’s most famous symbols—but Rosh Hoshanah also comes with special readings and prayers for a good new year.

Traditionally, Jewish teaching associates Rosh Hashanah with the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, and the day’s services focus on the relationship between G_d and humanity. (Learn more from Judaism 101.)


Of the sweet foods consumed on Rosh Hashanah, none is more popular than honey. Jerusalem, biblically referred to as “the land of milk and honey,” is yet another reason to eat honey on this special holiday. Most Jews eat apples or bread dipped in honey, or create dishes that incorporates these ingredients. (Wikipedia has details.)

Prayers near a body of water accompany the practice of tashlich, which is the “casting off” of sins. The faithful travel to flowing water and empty their pockets into the river, symbolically casting off their sins. Typically, small bits of bread are placed in the pockets before tashlich, and later “cast off” during the ritual.

What are the High Holidays? Sometimes referred to as “High Holidays,” or “High Holy Days,” this is the period of Hashanah and Yom Kippur and usually the phrase includes the 10 days in between. One description of this period says, in essence, that G_d opens the books of judgment as the new year begins and finally, on Yom Kippur, the judgment for the year is “sealed.”


For decades, rabbis and volunteers have been bringing the sound of the shofar to those who cannot attend synagogue services, whether due to age, poor health or occupation. Though driving a car is not permitted on holidays for traditionally observant Jews, some of these “house-call” shofar blowers are willing to walk for hours to add this important holiday element. ( reported.) Jews: To request a home visit on Rosh Hashanah, contact your local Chabad Center.

The Beatles in Israel? One of the most fascinating historical stories about Israel published as the year 5775 draws to a close is this lengthy column by Jewish Press writer Saul Jay Singer about a Beatles concert that might have taken place in 1965—but never did. Among other intriguing details about the ill-fated show, Singer found a ticket that promoters printed in preparation for the concert. The Beatles are on our minds, here at ReadTheSpirit, after the recent OurValues series by Charles Honey about the band’s enduring influence in our lives. Seems like an appropriate set of holiday dots to connect: Honey, the Beatles and Israel, too?

Want to make a perfect brisket? It’s a holiday favorite in many Jewish homes and, this week, FeedTheSpirit columnist Bobbie Lewis (with guest writer Debbi Eber) tackle the tips and techniques for a perfect brisket dinner.

Sweet recipes: Looking to bake up something sweet and scrumptious this Rosh Hashanah? Try the Jewish Chronicle’s honey cake trifle; Huffington Post’s 21 recipes with honey and apples; or’s granola baked apples. For an entire menu of Rosh Hashanah recipes, check out AllRecipes, Epicurious, Food Network and Martha Stewart.

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