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Celebrating Rosh Hashanah: What you need to know

Author : 112.ua News Agency

Rosh Hashanah is the name for the celebration of Jewish New Year and is one of the most important holidays in the Jewish calendar
08:32, 29 September 2019

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Most of the Ukrainians have probably heard about the Rosh Hashanah holiday. Many people associate this holiday with Uman (Cherkasy region), thousands of Hasidim, who come to this Ukrainian town to celebrate the New Year.

Why is Rosh Hashanah celebrated in the fall?

New Year and autumn is quite an unusual combination for those who have associated this holiday with December 31.

Related: Israeli police officers working on ensuring order during Hasid pilgrimage leave Uman

Rosh Hashanah falls at the beginning of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Jewish calendar. The main difference of this calendar is that it is lunar-solar one, which means that the Jewish holidays annually “move” according to dates. The first month of the Jewish calendar, Aviv (Nisan) falls on March-April of the Gregorian calendar, which means that the Tishrei falls on September – October. It is believed that God created the world in the seventh month.

In 2019, Jews celebrate the New Year from September 29 to October 1 – this is new, 5780 year.

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What is the difference between Rosh Hashanah and the New Year, which is celebrated on December 31?

The Jewish New Year is a holiday for a rethinking of the past and repentance. Creation of the first people, eating of the forbidden fruit, miraculous salvation of Isaac during the sacrifice, and other important events from biblical history are associated with it.

Rosh Hashanah is both the day of creation and the day of judgment. That is, on the day of creation of the world, God judges this world.

Related: About 20 thousand Hasidic pilgrims already arrived in Uman

On the first evening of Rosh Hashanah, it is common to greet each other wishing to be inscribed to the Book of Life. On these holidays, a person must remember everything that happened during the year, confess to oneself in all bad deeds and sincerely repent.

Let's try to generalize it all. So, Rosh Hashan is an opportunity to "renew" oneself and your relationship with God.

What we see every year in Uman is a part of the tradition of Rosh Hashan's celebration?

Yes and no. In Judaism, as in any other religion, there are a number of schools. What we see every year in Uman is the tradition of the Hasidic Jews, the followers of Rabbe Nachman, who is buried there.

In general, of course, the rules are different. For example, other Jews do not make a pilgrimage to Uman.

What is shofar?

Shofar – a ram's horn. And, probably, the brightest event of the holiday is connected to it.

Related: Songs, dances and tons of garbage: How Hasidim celebrate Rosh Hashanah in Uman

It is a deeply symbolic act – blowing the shofar. It is believed that the sound of shofar calls believers under God's judgment.

However, there are other interpretations. Another variant is that the ram horn reminds of a lamb that Abraham sacrificed instead of his son Isaac (which symbolizes the willingness of the believers to sacrifice themselves).

Another interpretation is that the sound of shofar reaches the heavens and confuses Satan, who at this moment tells the God of all human sins.

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There is another interesting and important ritual. It is called Tashlikh and symbolizes the salvation and release from the last year's sins.

The believers gather on the banks of the water reservoir, pray and shake off the crumbs from the pockets in the water. This way, they feed their sins to the fish.

What do you eat on Rosh Hashanah?

The traditional fruit of this holiday is a pomegranate. As an option, you could replace the pomegranates with apples. Honey is mandatory so that the next year is sweet.

It is customary to partake of a new food item, usually a new fruit, on Rosh Hashanah. This invokes the image of newness and a fresh beginning, which is embodied in the holiday. Also, Jews traditionally dip apples into honey on Rosh Hashanah.

Related: About 40,000 Hasidim to arrive to Ukraine for Rosh Hashanah celebration

The apple, reminiscent of the fruit of the Garden of Eden, reminds us of the creation theme that infuses Rosh Hashanah. The honey, an ancient symbol of strength and a source of sweetness, embodies our wishes for the coming year. Honey is also the sweet product of the collective within the beehive and therefore can be seen as symbolic of the potential sweetness and strength found within the community.

Thus, dipping the singular piece of apple into the honey bowl can be symbolic of ourselves as individuals immersed within the community and all the positive aspects it contains.

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