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Opening the Gates: Observing Rosh Hashanah


שָׁנָה טוֹבָה וּמְתוּקָה

Instead of the greeting of “Hag Sameah” that one might say on other Jewish holidays, on Rosh Hashanah we say “Shanah Tovah Umetukah,” “May you have a good and sweet year.”

Sweet Treats

On Rosh Hashanah, we eat sweet foods in hopes that the upcoming year will be sweet. Traditionally, this includes apples dipped in honey as well as pomegranates, which are also a symbol of abundance. Instead of the usual long loaf of challah we eat year round, on Rosh Hashanah we bake a round challah to symbolize the renewal of the cycle of the year. Some people also eat exotic fruits that they haven’t tasted before, reminding them of the excitement of trying new things.

What to Wear

For the sake of the hiddur mitzvah, beautification of the holiday, people generally wear dressy clothes, often slightly fancier than regular Shabbat attire.


Tashlikh is a short ritual we perform to symbolically cast away our sins. While most people associate this ritual with the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah, you can perform Tashlikh anytime except for Shabbat in the weeks between Rosh Hashanah and the end of Sukkot on Hoshanah Rabbah. Tashlikh is performed by tearing bread into small pieces and tossing them into a body of water. This act allows us to think about the bad deeds or destructive behaviors we’d like to liberate ourselves from, with each piece of bread serving as a release from those previous acts so we can enter into the coming year renewed.