In Hebrew, the term “Rosh Hashanah” literally means “the first of the year;” this particular feast is more commonly known as the Jewish New Year. The common greeting for this holiday is “L’shanah tovah,” literally “for a good year.”
Rosh Hashanah falls on the first day of the seventh month, according to the Hebrew calendar. It marks the beginning of the period known as the High Holy Days and the first two days of Rosh Hashanah usher in the Ten Days of Repentance, culminating in the major fast day of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
In Scripture, the term “Rosh Hashanah” is not used to describe the holiday. Instead, it is known as “Yom Ha-Zikkaron” (the day of remembrance) or “Yom Teruah” (the day of the sounding of the shofar). This day is instituted in Leviticus 23:24-25.
Various observances of Rosh Hashanah include the blowing of the shofar (a ram’s horn) in the synagogue. The sound of the shofar is a call to repentance for the Jewish people. If the holiday falls on Shabbat, the blowing of the shofar is typically not observed. Work is not permitted during Rosh Hashanah. For the most part, people observed Rosh Hashanah by spending the day reading liturgy in the synagogues. Religious services for Rosh Hashanah focus on God’s sovereignty.
Another popular observance is the eating of apples or bread with honey, as a symbol of the wish for a sweet new year. Instead of the traditional braided challah, round challah is served during Rosh Hashanah.
In 2014, Rosh Hashanah begins at sunset on September 24 and ends at nightfall on September 26. The year 2014 in the Gregorian calendar corresponds to the Jewish year of 5775.
Recently, the exchange of Rosh Hashanah greeting cards has become popular in America. Take this opportunity to build bridges with your Jewish contacts by sending them a Rosh Hashanah card. Study up on Leviticus 23:24-25, Numbers 29:1-6, Psalm 81:3-4, Ezra 3:1-6, and Nehemiah 8:1-12. Rosh Hashanah will be fulfilled by the rapture of the Church (I Thess. 4:13-18, I Cor. 15:50-58). Ask them how they celebrate Rosh Hashanah and tell them what the feast means to you. L’shanah tovah!