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Rosh Hashanah


Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the New Year. In Hebrew, it literally means “head of the year.” It is also the beginning of the ten-day period called the Days of Awe in which the Jewish people participate in a process of self-examination. The idea is to attain a sense of humility and spirituality to live a better life and to prepare for the Day of Atonement.


One of the most important observances of this holiday is blowing the shofar. The shofar is a ram's horn, which is blown somewhat like a trumpet. There are four different types of shofar notes: tekiah, a three second sustained note; shevarim, three one-second notes rising in tone; teruah, a series of short, staccato notes extending over a period of about three seconds; and tekiah gedolah (literally, "big tekiah"), the long, final blast. The Bible gives no specific reason for this practice. One explanaiton that has been offered is that the shofar's sound is a call to repentance.


A popular custom during this holiday is eating apples dipped in honey, a symbol of our wish for a sweet New Year. Many also practice Tashlich ("casting off") by walking to flowing water, such as a creek or river, on the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah and empty their pockets into the river, symbolically casting off one’s sins.

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