Rosh Hashanah is celebrated on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei (the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar) which, because of differences in the solar and lunar calendar, corresponds to September or October on the secular calendar. Rosh Hashanah starts at sun down and begins a ten-day period leading up to the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. During Rosh Hashanah, Jews from all over the world celebrate God’s creation of the world, attend synagogue and refrain from work these days. One of the most significant rituals during Rosh Hashanah is the blowing of the Shofar, or ram’s horn. It is used as a call to repentance during the High Holy Days.
A common greeting for Jews just before and during Rosh Hashanah is “May your name be inscribed (in the book of life).” Another popular greeting is “L’shana Tova”, which is a wish for a good new year. Traditional foods on Rosh Hashanah are sweet things. So apples dipped in honey and many other sweet dishes made with apples, honey, raisins, figs, sweetened carrots, and pomegranates are generally served in the Jewish home. The traditional challah bread is made sweeter and shaped in a circle, symbolizing completeness and never-ending sweetness. The rabbinic idea of this “sweetness” was to bring a sense of optimism to the festival, since the themes of repentance and atonement might have made this season a somber time of remorse alone.
At B’nai Torah, the community comes together on this joyous holiday to reflect on the past year and to celebrate the hope of the new year. We celebrate the new year with our annual Honey Cake Contest, taking place on Erev Rosh Hashanah. Our contest is always a big hit and new cakes are encouraged and welcomed. Tashlich is done as a community at a nearby creek, usually on the Sunday after Rosh Hashanah. Our board-sponsored luncheon welcomes all and concludes our holiday observance.