How to Celebrate Rosh Hashana
The first thing to note about Rosh Hashana is that the calendar of
repentance starts with the month of Elul which precedes Tishri - the
first month of the spiritual year. The idea is something along the
lines of: "repent now - avoid the Yom Kippur rush". In addition it is customary to hold a special late evening service of special prayers called the Selichot Service. Watch out for this in your synagogue - if you have never been, give it a go - it is really a very special time.
Of course Rosh Hashana itself is one of the best known festivals but it is worthwhile just going through some of the customs associated with it. Firstly the greetings - L'shanah tovah is the best known of these. Then there are the home customs, which - of course - involve food. After the usual blessings over the candles, wine, and bread, it is customary to eat apple dipped in honey to symbolise a sweet new year. The bracha is:
Another traditional food is honey cake - for the same reason as above.
|Ba-ruch a-ta A-don-ai el-o-hay-nu me-lech ha-o-lam bo-ray pree ha-aytz.
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, Sovereign of the Universe, Who creates the fruit of the tree.
Most people are well aware of the synagogue service on Rosh Hashana and the fact that we blow the Shofar. I am sure everyone knows the different notes - but just to remind you there is Tekiah the single blast, Shevarim, the triple blast and Teruah, the trill. At the end we blow a big Tekiah, the Tekiah Gedolah.
On the afternoon of Rosh Hashana the Tashlich ceremony is held, when we gather by a riverside, say the traditional prayers, and then symbolically throw our "sins" - in the form of bread - into the river. Needless to say, this event is also very popular with the ducks in the area.
You have ten days to continue the Calendar of Repentance and then it is Yom Kippur.