Rosh Hashanah Every year Temple Emanuel comes together to worship for the High Holy Days: Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We usher in the New Year (Rosh Hashanah) with a meaningful service in the evening (Erev Rosh Hashanah). On Rosh Hashanah morning Temple Emanuel offers, in addition to the regular service, junior congregation for children as well as a family service.
Second day Rosh Hashanah services are highly engaging and very participatory. Rosh Hashanah occurs on the first and second days of Tishri. In Hebrew Rosh Hashanah means, literally, “head of the year” or “first of the year.” Rosh Hashanah is commonly known as the Jewish New Year. This name is somewhat deceptive, because there is little similarity between Rosh Hashanah, one of the holiest days of the year, and the American midnight party. There is, however, one important similarity between the Jewish New Year and the American one: Many Americans use the New Year as a time to plan a better life, i.e. making “resolutions.” Likewise, the Jewish New Year is a time to begin introspection, looking back at the mistakes of the past year and planning the changes to make in the new year. The name “Rosh Hashanah” is not used in the Bible to discuss this holiday. The Bible refers to this holiday as Yom Ha-Zikkaron (the day of remembrance) or Yom Teruah (the day of the sounding of the shofar). The holiday is instituted in Leviticus 23:24-25. The shofar is a ram’s horn which is blown somewhat like a trumpet. One of the most important observances of this holiday is hearing the sounding of the shofar in the synagogue. A total of 100 notes are sounded each day. There are four different types of shofar notes: tekiah, a 3 second sustained note; shevarim, three 1-second notes rising in tone, teruah, a series of short, staccato notes extending over a period of about 3 seconds; and tekiah gedolah (literally, “big tekiah”), the final blast in a set, which lasts a minimum of 10 seconds. The Bible gives no specific reason for this practice. One that has been suggested is that the shofar’s sound is a call to repentance. Typically no work is permitted on Rosh Hashanah. Another popular observance during this holiday is eating apples dipped in honey, a symbol of our wish for a sweet new year. We also dip bread in honey (instead of the usual practice of sprinkling salt on it) at this time of year for the same reason. In addition to dipping an apple honey, we eat round challah bread to symbolize the circle of the life and the cycle of a new year. The challah can also be found in the shape of a crown because we refer to God as royalty several times throughout the holidays. Another popular practice of the holiday is Tashlikh (“casting off”). We walk to flowing water, such as a creek or river, on the afternoon of the first day and empty our pockets into the river, symbolically casting off our sins. This practice is not discussed in the Bible, but is a long-standing custom. At Temple Emanuel we observe Tashlikh on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah. The common greeting at this time is L’shanah tovah (“for a good year”). This is a shortening of “L’shanah tovah tikatev v’taihatem” (or to Yom Kippur