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Festivals: Rosh Hashanah

Type: Reference material

The name of this Jewish festival means 'head of the year' or 'first of the year' and signifies the Jewish New Year. It is an important and spiritual time for the Jewish people as they reflect on mistakes from the previous year and plan changes for the year ahead. This year it starts on the sunset of the 15th September and lasts for two days. In the Jewish calendar the festival takes place on the first two days of Tishri. According to the Jewish holy book, the Torah, Man was created on the day now celebrated as Rosh Hashanah so it is also considered to be the birthday of the human race.

An important symbol of this festival is the blowing of a ram's horn, known as a shofar, in the synagogue. The sound is a call to repentance and to begin the ten-day period known as High Holy Days (leading up to Yom Kippur - the Day of Atonement). There are 100 notes sounded each day made up of four different 'shofar notes'. 

Work is not permitted and so much of the day is spent worshipping in the synagogue. A popular custom for this festival is to dip an apple or some bread in honey to represent the wishes for a sweet year, for themselves, their families and all Jewish people. A special meal (with the emphasis on sweetness) is cooked at home for the whole family to enjoy.

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