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What is Rosh Hashanah?

Rosh Hashanah is also known as the Jewish New Year and marks the start of the 10 days of repentance. But what are the 10 days of repentance? And what traditions or customs do we follow during this time? The team at the Jewish Community Housing Corporation in NJ has put together an overview of Rosh Hashanah that includes what the holiday symbolizes and how we celebrate and honor it today with our family and friends. 

What does Rosh Hashanah symbolize?

Similar to New Year’s Eve, Rosh Hashanah symbolizes a fresh start. It is a time of reflection and for people to reevaluate their priorities and goals in life. During this time, people often ask themselves questions like: 

  • Who comes first in my life? 
  • What is the most important thing in my life? How can I prioritize this thing more? 
  • What is the most meaningful thing I have accomplished in the past year? 
  • What do I hope to accomplish in the coming year?
  • How can I make more time for the ones I love? 

This Jewish holiday also represents a time of judgment, also known as the 10 days of repentance. It is believed that God weighs the good and bad actions of everyone over the past year, and then decides what this upcoming year will be like for them. 

How do we celebrate Rosh Hashanah today? 

“L’shanah tovah!” is the traditional greeting for Rosh Hashanah, which translates to “for a good New Year!” You will hear this phrase often, especially if you and your family visit a Synagogue during this time. Many Jewish families frequent the Synagogue during this time to celebrate with friends and neighbors in the area. 

Another tradition of this holiday is to play one of the oldest wind instruments called the Shofar. One hundred notes are played on this big horn to create a special rhythm that is symbolic of Rosh Hashanah. The sound of the Shofar signifies the start of the ten-day period called the ‘Days of Awe,’ which lead up to another Jewish festival called Yom Kippur. For those who are not familiar, Yom Kippur is the most solemn day in the Jewish calendar. It means ‘Day of Atonement’ and people don’t eat or drink for 25 hours in order to reflect on the past year and ask God’s forgiveness for their bad actions. 

Which leads to why food is an important part of Rosh Hashanah. The Jewish people celebrate the positivity of the upcoming year before the Day of Atonement with staple foods. Some examples are apples dipped in honey or honey cake to symbolize a sweet new year. As well as, pomegranates, challah bread, tzimmes, fish and hearty vegetables. 

Jewish Culture at Lester Senior Living in NJ

If you’d like to know more about Jewish culture, or about how we are celebrating Rosh Hashanah, please contact the team at Lester Senior Living today. At our senior community in Morris County, we read the Torah, hold Maariv Services and even offer university level classes about Jewish history and culture. Although our traditions are deeply rooted in Judaism, our senior living communities warmly welcome people of all faiths and backgrounds. 

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