The Jews who are also known as the Jewish people celebrate their New Year in the Jewish New Year, known as the Rosh Hashanah. The biblical name of this New Year is the Yom Teruah literally translated as the day of shouting or blasting or Feast of the Trumpets.
However these Jewish New Year celebrations do not tally with the Gregorian calendar and is celebrated sometimes in the month of September or October. This according to the Jewish calendar is known as the month of Tishri. As the meaning of the name already suggests, this is celebrated with a great deal of pomp and splendor.
This is considered to be one of the most important festivals of the Jewish people not only traditionally but also from religious aspects. as mentioned earlier, this day has been mentioned in the Bible too and has the Biblical name of Yom Teruah.
The celebrations go on for 10 days and being an extremely auspicious period, these 10 days is known as Shabbat Shuva. However the New Year celebration Rosh Hashanah is a 2 day affair. According to Judaism, this is the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve.
Date of Rosh Hashanah in 2017 – Rosh Hashanah for the year 2017 begins in Wednesday, September 20th and ends in Friday September 22nd.
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Timing of Rosh Hashanah in 2017: The Rosh Hashanah celebration are traditionally calculated on the basis of the traditional Jewish calendar to which people adhere to. The celebrations of Rosh Hashanah start one day earlier with the setting of the sun. According to the traditional Jewish calendar, this is the last day of the month of Elul. It is a matter of great amazement that since the 4th century, the traditional British calendar has been modified in a manner that the Rosh Hashanah is never observed on certain particular days of the week. But this two day celebration does not find mention in the religious books of the Jews, The Torah. Some people discard the concept too and feels that only the first day of the month of Tishri should be observed as the Jewish New Year.
Religious Beliefs surrounding Rosh Hashanah: Rosh etymologically means Head, as it is the Hebrew for the same and Shanah indicated year, thus the word originally means head of the year, meaning the beginning of the New Year. The Jewish people firmly believe on the fact that the New year is a time of judgment. Judgments of what you have done are being measured upon. They believe on this day God opens three books of accounts- one for people who have been righteous all along, the second has a list od people who have at times transgressed to vices and the third one lists people who are in the middle. On this day the God passes judgments as to who can enter the hallowed precinct of Heaven and who has t stew in Hell. The third category of people are given a period of ten days to mend their manners. If after 10 days, their behaviors is found to be desirable then the gates of Heaven opens for them. this day is also known as the Yom Hadim.
Significance of the Shofar – A shofar is a musical instrument which is created out of the horns of a Ram. This is of utmost importance during the New Year celebrations. During the Rosh Hashanah the shofar is sounded 100 or 101 times depending upon the community of Jews. This sound is believed to awaken the inner morale of people and remind them to mend their ways. According to the Jewish people the Shofar was sounded when God had handed over the Torah.
Rosh Hashanah Eve – the evening of Rosh Hashanah is very important and is known as Erve Rosh Hashanah. This is actually interesting enough that the eve is celebrated on the New Year’s Day only. It falls on the first ever day of the month of Tishrei, since days in Hebrew calendar began at sunset. This evening is marked by holy bath and a special prayer. Some people perform a Hatarat Nedarim after the Morning Prayer service on the 29th day of the Hebrew month of Elul.
Rites and Rituals observed during Jewish New Year – The Jewish New Year is all about self realization and subsequent self rectification. The rituals of this great day too are full of meaningful rituals and symbolism. This day as mentioned earlier is the day of judgment. People start the day with holistic bathing and special prayers. Religious poems called piyuttim are chanted. A special prayer book called Mazhor is used during the Rosh Hashanah. The Shofar is blown during the period of Mussaf at couple of intervals along with the prayer services. This sound reminds everyone to look deep within their hearts. 10 verses are said regarding the Kingship, remembrance and on the Shofar itself.
Symbolic Meals: There are a lot of symbolic meals attached to the feasts of Rosh Hashanah. For example whole fish with head in its place, dates, leeks, spinach, black eyed beans, gourds etc are included for the meals on this special day. These are items which are mentioned in the Talmud. It included apple dipped in honey to symbolize the beginning of a sweet new year. Consuming pomegranate is believed to make the upcoming year a fruitful one. There is a tradition of reciting prayers upon the seder.
Tashlikh- The rituals of the Taslikh is performed by the Ashkenazic people on the first day of the Rosh Hashnah. This is carried out mostly during the afternoon period only. Prayers are chanted near flowing water preferably in a symbol of washing away of one’s sins in the flowing water. There is also the custom of throwing off pebbles in the water in a symbolism of discarding all the negativities and bad sides of one in the water. If the first day of Rosh Hashanah happened to be on Shabbat then the Taslikh is postponed to the second day.
Greetings: The traditional Hebrew greeting on the Rosh Hashanah is Leshana tova tekatev v’techatem. This phrase literally translated into “May you be blessed with a good year!” or L’shanah tovah tikatevu v’tichatemu which literally means May you be inscribed and sealed top have a good year. People are also heard wishing Shanah Tovah or Ah Gut Yohr meaning Good Year, or Gmar Tov or Gmar Chatima Tova which means May God pass upon you a favorable judgment. Tyhus from the greetings too it is clear that the Jewish New Year is all about self ratification and passing the judgment day.