Jewish New Year is known by the name of Rosh Hashanah. It is celebrated in keeping with the traditional Jewish calendar.

When plotted against the modern day Gregorian calendar the event takes place sometime in the month of either September or October.

Rosh Hashanah is celebrated in the traditional Jewish month of Tishri. Jewish New Year is celebrated with utmost pomp and glory for this is considered to be one of the most significant observances of the Jewish people, and has importance both in the social as well as religious aspects.

This day is believed to find mention even in the holy Bible. Rosh Hashanah is a major festival for the Jewish people and the celebrations go on for ten days. What begins as Rosh Hashanah ends on the tenth day as Yom Kippur. This period of ten days is considered to be very auspicious and it is known by the name of Shabbat Shuva.

  • Date of Rosh Hashanah in 2016: Rosh Hashanah 2016 begins in the evening of Sunday, October 2, 2016; and ends in the evening of Tuesday, October 4, 2016.

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  • Timing of Rosh Hashanah in 2016: Rosh Hashanah celebrations are calculated on the basis of the Lunar based calendar that the Jewish people traditionally adhere to. As per the traditional Jewish calendar each day begins as the sun sets. Naturally, the celebrations of Rosh Hashanah begin in the previous day after the sun sets. As per the Jewish calendar this is the last day of the month of Elul. Since the 4th century, the traditional Jewish calendar has been modified in a manner so that Rosh Hashanah would never be observed on some specific days of the week, these days being – Sunday, Wednesday, Friday. Because of all these alterations often it becomes difficult to determine when the new moon is. On those occasions Rosh Hashanah is celebrated for two days. However such celebration for two days does not find any mention in the Written Torah, and as such some people discard the idea altogether. According to the traditional belief that is strictly based on what is there in the Written Torah, Rosh Hashanah should be observed on the first day of the Jewish month of Tishri.

  • Religious Beliefs surrounding Rosh Hashanah: The Jewish people believe that the New Year is the time for Judgment. This is the day when according to them God opens three books of accounts – one has the names of all those people who have been righteous, the second has the names of all those people who have showed traits of vices, while the third book takes into account those people who are in the middle. On this Day of Judgment, God provides right to enter Heaven to those who have been righteous and prevents the wicked ones from entering the Heaven. As for the third category, they are provided a grace period of ten days. Within this time they are expected to mend their ways and repent for wrongs done in the past. It is then that they shall be considered for entry to Heaven.

  • Significance of the Shofar: A shofar is of utmost importance in the Jewish culture. A Shofar is a form of musical instrument that is crafted out of the horn of a Ram. During the Rosh Hashanah celebrations a Shofar is sounded either for 100 times or for 101 times, depending on the particular Jewish community. Listening to the sound of the Shofar is believed to bring in Spiritual Awakening for Jewish people believe that shofar sound was heard when the Torah was being handed over by God.

  • Rosh Hashanah Eve: This day is known as the Erev of Rosh Hashanah. This is an interesting point in New Year celebrations. Here the New Year’s Eve is celebrated on the day of the New Year itself. As such celebrations for Rosh Hashanah Eve actually take place on the first day of the traditional Jewish month of Tishri. This is because of the fact that as per Jewish traditions, a day begins after sunset, and as such Rosh Hashanah is celebrated after sunset of the first day of the month of Tishri; while the Eve is celebrated during the daytime of the same day. This Eve is marked by holy bath and special prayers.

  • Rites and Rituals observed during Jewish New Year: Jewish New Year is all about self rectification, and its celebrations are full of rituals and symbolism. This is considered to be a Day of Judgment, and as such people begin the day with holy bathing and special prayers. The sound of the Shofar in the morning is like a moral reminder to delve deep within and find ways of self improvement. Feasting involves eating a number of symbolic food items.

  • Symbolic Meals: Traditionally, the Jewish people attach symbolic importance to some food items, and they are included in the New Year meals. For example, dates, leeks, spinach, whole fish with head in place, black eyed beans, gourd etc are considered to bear symbolism in them. Some people believe that having apple and honey on this day would sweeten the days to come. Eating pomegranate on this day is considered to make the year a fruitful one. Some people also believe in reciting prayers over Seder.

  • Tashlikh: This ritual is mostly followed in the afternoon. For this, people visit a nearby water body that has a flowing stream of water. There people pray and throw pebbles. This is believed to be the symbolic representation of the fact that they are discarding all the negatives from the bygone days. It is believed that with the flow of water the sins committed knowingly or unknowingly would too get carried or washed away.

  • Greetings: Traditional Jewish New Year wish says -- Leshana tova tekatev v'techatem – which literally translated means “May you be blessed with a good year!” Often people are heard wishing each other Shanah Tovah or Ah Gut Yohr – Good Year; or even Gmar Tov or Gmar Chatima Tova – May God pass a favorable judgment. All the Jewish New Year wishes stem from the belief that Jewish New Year is the time to make a fresh new beginning to life. It is the time when one should discard all the vices and embrace all that is virtuous. In doing so, they believe, that God would be kind to them while making the Judgment, and would give them entry to Heaven.