Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: Rosh Hashanah from Philip's Encyclopedia

Jewish New Year and first day of the month of Tishri (generally in September). It is the day on which a ceremonial ram's horn, the shophar or shofar, is blown to call sinners to repentance - the Day of Judgment or of Remembrance. It begins the Ten Days of Penitence that culminate with the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur.


Summary Article: Rosh Hashanah
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Two-day religious observance that marks the start of the Jewish New Year (first new moon after the autumn equinox, beginning the month of Tishri). It is traditionally announced by blowing a shofar, a ram's-horn trumpet. It is the first of the high holy days, or ‘days of awe’, and celebrates the creation of the world, the repentance of sins, and the renewal of God's relationship with the Jewish people.

The New Year is regarded as a time to take stock, and face God with an honest heart. Jews will send each other New Year cards, and greet each other with ‘May you be inscribed for a good life!’ Apples dipped in honey and honey cake are eaten to bring sweetness to the coming year. In the afternoon, people will perform tashlikh (‘casting away’), emptying their pockets of any crumbs into flowing water, often a river, symbolizing the shedding of the last vestiges of the previous year, including their sins. The ritual of tashlikh is accompanied by a service with prayers asking God to help take away their sins.

Rosh Hashanah marks the first two days of the Ten Days of Returning (to God), when Jews take stock of their actions in the past year. If they have wronged anyone, they should ask for forgiveness and try to put things right. The third day is the Fast of Gedaliah, and the tenth is the high holy day of Yom Kippur (or the Day of Atonement).

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

Related Articles


Full text Article rosh ha-shanah
Dictionary of Jewish Lore and Legend, Thames & Hudson

The Jewish year begins on the first of Tishri , and the first and second of Tishri are celebrated as the New Year festival. This is the...

Full text Article Rosh Hashanah
Cultural Studies: Holidays Around the World

Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year and the first two of the 10 High Holy Days (see TESHUVAH) that conclude with YOM KIPPUR, th

Full text Article Elul Selichot
Cultural Studies: Holidays Around the World

Celebrated in the last month of the Hebrew calendar, Elul Selichot is a time for repentance, reconciliation, and self-reflection in preparation for

See more from Credo