This Wednesday evening (Sept. 24), Jews in the Holy Land and the Diaspora will be entering into the Jewish New Year, 5775. How is it that the Jewish calendar is starting year 5775, but based on the the Gregorian (aka Western) calendar, it is 2014?
The Jewish Calendar starts from the creation of Adam and Eve, which was estimated to have happened just about 5,775 years ago!
Rosh Hashanah, literally translated to “Head of the year,” is a happy and serious time for Jews. According to a prayer said during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, “On Rosh Hashanah [your fate] it is written, and on Yom Kippur it is sealed.” There are ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and those are the known as the “Days of Awe.”
In Judaism there is the belief that when you transgressed by hurting someone, God will not pardon your transgressions without you first apologizing the person you hurt. What’s fascinating is that apologizing one time is not enough. Two times is still not enough. However, after the third time, if that person you hurt still does not forgive you, God will pardon your error.
For Rosh Hashanah, there is a tradition of dipping apples into honey, in hopes for a sweet, new year. Also, the traditional Jewish bread, called challah, is made round, instead of braided. The roundness is supposed to signify the circle of life.
Additionally, a ram’s horn (called a shofar) is blown 200 times throughout Rosh Hashanah. There are different interpretations as to why it is a ram’s horn and why it is blown on Rosh Hashanah. One interpretation is that the sound is supposed to wake up our souls.
It is a special opportunity to be on a Holy Land tour during holy days, specifically the High Holy Days. In addition to seeing what was mentioned above, you may also see other traditions, such as people throwing bread crumbs in moving bodies of water, in order to “cast off” their sins (this custom is called tashlich, which literally means “cast off”).
I hope that this upcoming year, 5575, will be full of happiness, non-violent action, love, and yummy food.
L’shana tova u’metuka (Happy and sweet new year)!