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Rosh Hashanah- literally “The head of the Year”-is the Jewish New Year. It is the first two days of the month of Tishrei and is the anniversary of the creation of man and woman (Adam and Eve). No work is done on Rosh Hashanah. It is on this day that the Jewish people proclaim God as their King. In synagogue, the Shofar (Ram’s horn) is sounded 100 times, which represents the trumpet blast of a people's coronation of their king. The prayers uttered during Rosh Hashanah are of recognizing God’s greatness and power and for a year of life, health and prosperity. The shofar blast is also a call to repentance. Rosh Hashanah begins a period of intense self-reflection, called the “Days of Awe.” The climax of this period is on Yom Kippur, 10 days later. From Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur, one performs the ritual of Tashlich, during which one symbolically casts off their sins by throwing bread into a flowing body of water.
On Rosh Hashanah, we eat apples dipped in honey to symbolize a sweet new year. Some eat pomegranates, as a “new fruit” to usher in a new year. Some eat other symbolic foods, such as carrots, black eyed peas and beets. Round challah is eaten to symbolize the circle of life and the cycle of the year. Yom Kippur-literally “Day of atonement”- is commonly considered the holiest day of the Jewish year. On Yom Kippur, Jewish people fast and pray to God for forgiveness for the year past and ask to be inscribed in the Book of Life for the year to come. Jews traditionally observe this day with a 25-hour fast during which they spend most of the day praying in synagogue and no work is done. Coming 10 days after Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur is the climax of the “Days of Awe.” These are the 10 days between the 2 holidays in which much self-reflection and repentance takes place. All of this happens in anticipation of Yom Kippur.
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