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Traditional Ways to Celebrate Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah translates to “Head of the Year” and is one of the most joyous celebrations for our people! It is also a time for reflection, where we think about the past year and how we’d like to make more positive changes in the upcoming year. While for many, Rosh Hashanah conjures up hours spent at synagogue, the best part about this holiday is celebrating with family and friends. If you’re looking for ideas, our Lester assisted living staff in Morris County have compiled great ways to enjoy Rosh Hashanah!

#1. Wish your neighbor a happy new year!

Perhaps, the easiest way to spread Rosh Hashanah cheer and make a positive change is to wish your neighbor a happy new year! You never know, after wishing someone “L’shana tova!” you might strike up a conversation that leads to a new friendship. There are many different ways to greet someone during Rosh Hashanah. You could stick with a simple “Happy New Year!” like we do on December 31st. Or if you want to practice your Hebrew more, you can give one of the phrases below a chance to shine.

  • L’shana tova: For a good year!
  • Shana tova: Have a good year!
  • Shana tovah u’metukah: Have a good and sweet year!
  • Chag sameach: Happy holiday!
  • Gmar chatima tova: A good signing/sealing! (This is a reference to the belief that our fates are “signed” on Rosh Hashanah and “sealed” on Yom Kippur.)

#2. Go to the synagogue and hear the Shofar

Like Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah is more of a synagogue holiday. What makes this synagogue service different from others is the playing of the Shofar. This is one of the oldest known wind instruments, played only during Rosh Hashanah. Symbolically, the blowing out of air through the Shofar symbolizes how we must turn inward to fix ourselves so we can then burst out and contribute to the world. One hundred notes are played on this big horn to create a special rhythm that is symbolic to the holiday. The distinct sound of this instrument signals the start of the ten ‘Days of Awe,’ leading up to Yom Kippur.


#3. Eat traditional Rosh Hashanah foods!

Food is an important part of any holiday, but this is especially true for Rosh Hashanah. We celebrate the positivity of the upcoming year with staple foods that are usually sweet. Some examples are apples dipped in honey to symbolize a sweet new year, as well as, challah bread, tzimmes, kugel, fish and sweet potatoes. Here is the detailed significance behind some of these foods:


  • Apples and honey: No matter what your flavor of Judaism, everyone is familiar with the classic apples dipped in honey that traditionally manifests a sweet new year. Now, a lot of people opt to make a dessert for their Rosh Hashanah guests that combine these two staple foods, like honey apple cake.
  • Try a new fruit: Rosh Hashanah is all about a fresh start. One way to express this is through trying a new, seasonal fruit each year. Our recommendation this year is pomegranates!
  • Challah: More specifically, a round challah is traditionally served to symbolize the circular nature of the year.
  • Tzimmes, brisket and kugel: Ashkenazi jews usually serve tzimmes, brisket and kugel during this holiday.
  • Sweet potato, pumpkin or leek patties: In Sephardic Jewish homes, these foods are always staples on the table during Rosh Hashanah.

Rosh Hashanah at Lester Senior Living in NJ

If you’d like to know more about senior care in the Jewish tradition, or about how we are celebrating Rosh Hashanah, please call the team at Lester Senior Living today. At our senior community in Morris County, we read the Torah, hold synagogue services and eat Shabbat together. Although our traditions are deeply rooted in Judaism, all of our communities’ welcome seniors of all faiths and backgrounds.

To learn more about Jewish holidays at our assisted living community in Morris County, NJ, please visit our website at: https://jchcorp.org/