Rosh Hashana in Israel is one of the most special times of the year! Happy new year! Jewish New Year is called Rosh Hashana and usually falls during September or early October. Rosh Hashana is a two day holiday and businesses across Israel will be closed on both days so bear this in mind if you are in Israel during the period. In 2016, Rosh Hashana will begin at sundown on October 3, and end at sundown on October 4. In many ways, being in Israel during Rosh Hashana is like Shabbat where most businesses are closed.
Being in Israel during Rosh Hashana
Via lilachd, on Flickr
If you are in Israel during the Rosh Hashana period, visiting a synagogue to hear the prayers is an amazing experience. Jews attend quite lengthy synagogue services, and recite special prayers and liturgical songs written over the centuries which vary between Jews who have developed different prayers based on where they were living for hundreds of years. The blowing of the shofar (ram’s horn) is an iconic symbol of Rosh Hashana – 100 (or 101) shofar blasts are sounded in the synagogue to symbolize God’s sovereignty over the world, to remind Jews of the giving of the commandments on Mt. Sinai, of Abraham and Isaac’s devotion to God, to arouse people to repentance and to herald the Day of Judgment and the coming of the Messiah.
Symbols of Rosh Hashana in Israel
Other symbols of Rosh Hashana include apple and honey customarily eaten as well as other sweet foods to symbolize a sweet new year. Tashlich is a custom carried out on Rosh Hashanah afternoon where Jews to walk to a river, lakeshore or other open body of water, to shake out one’s pockets and symbolically cast one’s sins into the water. If you come to Israel during this period, it is interesting to see religious Jews performing this custom.
The period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is called “The Ten Days of Repentance,” during which people have the opportunity to atone for their sins. Yom Kippur is a day when Israel grinds to a halt – check out this page for information about being in Israel during Yom Kippur.