Today is February 16, 2020 -
Rosh Hashanah is celebrated at the beginning of the month of Tishrei. The Jewish New Year is a time of joy as well as a time of solemn reflection. We celebrate the completion of the year and pray that the following year will be a year of blessings. We eat sweet foods like honey and round challah bread in hopes for a sweet new year and we wish each other “L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu.” This translates to “May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year.”
During services we read prayers from the machzor, which contains all of the prayers and Torah readings for the High Holidays. On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, we read about Isaac’s birth and the banishment of Hagar and Ishmael. These Torah readings are followed by a haftarah about about the birth of Samuel the Prophet. On the second day, we read the story of Abraham and the binding of Isaac. Abraham almost sacrifices Isaac but is stopped by a voice from heaven and offers a ram in Isaac’s place. The haftarah talks about God’s everlasting love for the Jewish people.
One of the most important elements of Rosh Hashanah services is the blowing of the Shofar. The use of a ram’s horn reminds us of the story of the binding of Isaac. The Shofar is blown as a reminder of the covenant between God and the People of Israel. The Shofar was used in ancient times to call the community together. Now it is blown to usher in the Ten Days of Repentance. It reminds us that we need to look inward and examine our deeds.
Tashlich is performed following the first day of Rosh Hashanah services. This ceremony is symbolic of throwing our sins away. We do this by throwing breadcrumbs into a body of flowing water.