Rosh Hashanah: Learn about the Jewish New Year

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish new year. This year, it falls on September 28th. If you’re not Jewish and are unfamiliar with Rosh Hashanah, keep reading to learn about this important day.

Child blowing sofar

What is Rosh Hashanah?

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year of people, animals and legal contracts. This year, it begins at sundown on September 28th and ends at nightfall on September 30. explains that Rosh Hashanah literally means “Head of the Year” and it begins on 1 Tishrei (the first day of the Jewish New Year).

The Jewish New Year is a time of introspection. “During this time of year, we are to reexamine the year, apologize for mistakes and resolve to be better,” explains Haleh Rabizadeh, a Judaics teacher for over 20 years and author of Little Patient Big Doctor.

One significant way Rosh Hashanah is observed is through the sounding of the shofar, or the ram’s horn. Yom Kippur, the “day of atonement,” occurs ten days after the beginning of Rosh Hashanah.


One Rosh Hashanah tradition is to eat an apple dipped in honey. This symbolizes wishes for a sweet new year. Another is to dip bread in honey for the same reason. A traditional Rosh Hashanah greeting is “shana tovah u’metukah,” which means “a good and sweet new year.”

“Ashkenazic Jews (those of Eastern European background) have apples and honey to signify a sweet year and round challahs (special braided bread) to signify the wholeness of life,” explains Rabizadeh. “Sephardic Jews (those of other backgrounds) have approximately 10 foods that they eat at this meal, which each have a symbolic meaning.”

Rosh Hashanah: Traditions and holiday meals >>

Family celebrations

While Rosh Hashanah is serious, it is also a time for celebration. “I love Rosh Hashanah!! It’s the Jewish New Year — a time for new beginnings — to take a deep breath and feel grateful for everything in my life and look forward to an exciting year to come,” says “Mama” Doni Zasloff Thomas, a musician. “I love that the Jewish New Year happens at back-to-school time because it really feels like a fresh start — kids geared up for new school year and ready to launch into the year with enthusiasm!”

A reduced carb Rosh Hashanah >>

Mama Doni and her family celebrate with music, family and food. “We have a big family New Years party with sweet foods for a sweet new year, spicy food for an exciting and juicy new year and of course healthy foods for a healthy one…. and always music!”

Tell us

How does your family celebrate Rosh Hashanah?

Share with us in the comments section below!

Rosh Hashanah Rock Anthem

Get ready for the New Year and Jewish High Holidays with this video.


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