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                                 YAMIM NORAIM
                                       ROSH HASHANAH         
                     HEAD OF THE YEAR


“Shanah Tovah”
A song

Shanah halcha, shanah ba’ah         
Ani Kapai arimah
Shanah tovah, lecha Abba
Shanah tovah, lach Ima
Shanah Tovah

A year passes and a year comes
I lift up my hands
“A good year to you, Abba (Dad)”
“A good year to you, Imma (Mum)”

Symbols of Rosh Hashanah


Apples and honey

On Rosh Hashanah we eat apples dipped in honey.  The apples remind us of the roundness of the year and tell us that the coming year will be fruitful. The honey represents the wish for a sweet year.  Some people dip bread in the honey as well, hoping that the new year will be just as sweet as the bread.

New fruit

On the second night of Rosh Hashanah we taste a fruit that we have not yet eaten during the year. As well as the blessing over fruit we say “Shecheyanu”, the blessing we recite for new things. This new fruit is considered good luck.

Fish head

Some people eat a fish head, saying the blessing “May we be like a head (leader) and not a tail (follower)”, or “We will be fruitful and multiply like fish”.

Special challah

We eat special challah instead of the usual plaited challah that we eat on Shabbat. The challah we eat on Rosh Hashanah is either round to signify a long life and a smooth year, or in the shape of a ladder to signify our journey upwards to talk to God. Challah for Rosh Hashanah is often made with either a sweet dough, or sweet fruit like raisins baked into it.


The shofar is the most important symbol of Rosh Hashanah. We sound it on both days of the festival, but not if they fall on Shabbat. We blow the shofar with four different calls:

1)     Tekiah – one long sound

2)     Shevarim – three shorter blasts

3)     Teruah – nine fast toots

4)     Tekiah Gedolah – a long blast, if possible 27 beats long!


Thinking about ourselves

One way we celebrate Rosh Hashanah is by looking forward.  We dip slices of apple or challah into honey, and eat them, saying, “May it be a sweet and good year.”  We send Rosh Hashanah cards.  Rosh Hashanah is, in a way, a celebration of the world’s creation, the “birthday” of the world.  So we wish the world, and each other, a happy year ahead.

Also, we remember the last new year. It seems that a whole year has slipped by very quickly. Now we look back; we remember.  In fact, “Day of Remembering” is the name the Torah gives to Rosh Hashanah. We remember because what has already happened tells us something about what will happen.  If we want to be proud of ourselves in the year ahead, we must think how we have done so far.

And so, on Rosh Hashanah, we think over our lives. We promise ourselves to do our very best in the future. Doing that helps us feel clean and strong, and fills us with energy for new things.

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Last updated  2009/09/08 09:39:37 AESTHits  473