What: It is the birthday of the universe, the day God created Adam and Eve, and it’s celebrated as the head of the Jewish year.
When: The first two days of the Jewish new year, Tishrei 1 and 2, beginning at sundown on the eve of Tishrei 1. Rosh Hashanah 2018 begins at sundown on September 9 and continues through nightfall on September 11.
How: Candle lighting in the evenings, festive meals with sweet delicacies during the night and day, prayer services that include the sounding of the ram’s horn (shofar) on both mornings, and desisting from creative work. See our calendar for details.
Why Rosh Hashanah Is Important
The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah actually means “Head of the Year.” Just like the head controls the body, our actions on Rosh Hashanah have a tremendous impact on the rest of the year.
As we read in the Rosh Hashanah prayers, each year on this day “all inhabitants of the world pass before God like a flock of sheep,” and it is decreed in the heavenly court “who shall live, and who shall die … who shall be impoverished and who shall be enriched; who shall fall and who shall rise.”
It is a day of prayer, a time to ask the Almighty to grant us a year of peace, prosperity and blessing. But it is also a joyous day when we proclaim God King of the Universe. The Kabbalists teach that the continued existence of the universe depends on God’s desire for a world, a desire that is renewed when we accept His kingship anew each year on Rosh Hashanah.
What’s It Called?
● The most common name for this holiday is Rosh Hashanah, the name used in the eponymous tractate of Talmud devoted to the holiday.
● In our prayers, we often call it Yom Hazikaron (Day of Remembrance) and Yom Hadin (Day of Judgement) since this is the day when God recalls all of His creations and determines their fate for the year ahead.
● Together with Yom Kippur (which follows 10 days later), it is part of the Yamim Nora’im (Days of Awe, or: High Holidays).