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September 11, 2012 > Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah

While a good portion of the world is well past New Year's celebrations, the Jewish New Year is just getting underway. Rosh Hashanah will be observed the evening of Sunday, September 16 until the evening of Tuesday, September 18. Meaning "head of the year" in Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah is a time for prayer, repentance, and charity, and also marks the creation of Adam and Eve, honoring the relationship between God and man.

The holiday is observed with many traditions, including the sounding the shofar (ram's horn), which is a call for repentance and signals the first of ten "Days of Awe," culminating in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, falling this year on Wednesday, September 26. During this time it is believed that Jews must express repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation, righting wrongs of the previous year in order to change their fate for the coming year.

Tashlich prayers release sins and shortcomings, welcoming the year with a clean slate:

"Who is like You, God, who removes iniquity and overlooks transgression of the remainder of His inheritance. He doesn't remain angry forever because He desires kindness. He will return and He will be merciful to us, and He will conquer our iniquities, and He will cast them into the depths of the seas.

"Give truth to Jacob, kindness to Abraham like that you swore to our ancestors from long ago.

"From the straits I called upon God, God answered me with expansiveness. God is with me, I will not be afraid, what can man do to me? God is with me to help me, and I will see my foes (annihilated). It is better to take refuge in God than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in God, that to rely on nobles."

In expression of the desire for blessings, prosperity, and abundance in the New Year, food eaten during Rosh Hashanah focuses on sweet foods and carries special significance. Slices of bread and apple dipped in honey symbolizes the wish for a sweet year; the head of a kosher animal, such as a fish or ram, shows the desire to be "head of the class"; the pomegranate symbolizes the desire for a year filled with good deeds.

Prayers, the lighting of candles, time spent with family and friends, and attending special services are also a part of Rosh Hashanah. For more information on the holiday or services, contact:

Temple Beth Torah at (510) 656-7141 or (Fremont)
Temple Shir Ami at (510) 537-1787 or (Castro Valley)
Temple Beth Sholom at (408) 978-5566 or (San Jose)
Congregation Sinai at (408) 264-8542 or (San Jose)

Leshanah tovah tikateiv veteichateim, "May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year."

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