Rosh Hashanah: A Sweet New Year

September 4, 2013    |    By +
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Rosh Hashanah, or “head of the new year,” is celebrated this year from sundown on Wednesday, Sept. 4, to sunset on Friday, Sept. 6. It is the beginning of the High Holy Days, a time of introspection leading up to the holiest day in the religion, Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement (this year that falls on sundown Sept. 13 to sundown Sept. 14). During Rosh Hashanah, people of the Jewish faith gather in synagogue for services, using a special prayer book, the mahzor, and will hear a shofar, or a horn made of ram’s horn, blown 100 times in a set sequence. It’s considered a spiritual wake-up call.

To have a shana tovah u’metukah, or a good, sweet new year, people eat round challah bread, which signifies the cycle of a year, and apple slices dipped in honey. Other traditional foods include honey cakes and raisin-filled challah bread. On the second night, a fruit that has recently come into season, such as pomegranate, is eaten. The pomegranate is also said to have the same number of seeds, 613, as there are mitzvot, or commandments, in the Torah. In addition to not working during the holiday, and attending synagogue, many Jewish people walk to flowing water and “cast off” sins, represented by small pieces of bread. And they bless each other with the saying, Leshanah tovah tikateiv veteichateim, “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”

If you’d like to impress your Rosh Hashanah hosts with a delectable and tasty treat, browse through some of our Kosher Foods and Gift Baskets¬†guaranteed to make an impression.

Our blog has other etiquette guides on the Jewish faith, including Jewish wedding celebrations and Jewish sympathy traditions.


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Kathryn D.W.
Kathryn Drury Wagner is the senior manager of content at She was formerly the executive editor at Honolulu Magazine, and is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Shopping on Oahu. Her career has included staff positions at Country Living Gardener and Power & Motoryacht. Her latest book is "Hawaii's Strangest, Ickiest, Wildest Book Ever!"

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