Rosh HaShanah

Rosh Hashanah is a two-day tradition that predates recorded history. That’s how old it is. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashanah means “head of the year” and is, symbolically, the Jewish New Year.
According to Jewish teachings, Rosh Hashanah commemorates the creation of the world by God, culminating in the creation of mankind. It is, in essence, a birthday celebration for Adam and Eve and their part in God’s plan.

During Rosh Hashanah, the “shofar,” or the ram’s horn, is sounded as a call to repentance and a reminder of God’s imminent judgment.
Another tradition, the “tashlich,” involves going to a body of water, reciting special prayers and casting breadcrumbs into the water. It symbolizes casting off the sins of the past year.

If a person truly repents of their sins and commits to doing better in the new year, it is said that God will record their name in the Book of Life and reward them with another year on Earth.

The holiday occurs around September by the Julian calendar. Mark Paredes, member of the LDS Church’s Jewish Relations Committee in Southern California, said because of the Jewish lunar calendar, the two days of Rosh Hashanah sometimes coincide with the fall session of LDS general conference. It last happened in 1986 and will happen again in 2027.

“How appropriate that modern Jews gather on Rosh Hashanah to hear the sound of the shofar call them to repentance and introspection around the same time that their brothers and sisters in Israel gather to hear prophets preach similar themes,” Paredes said.“This holiday’s themes definitely resonate with God-fearing Latter-day Saints,” Paredes said. “Ideally, we have 52 mini-Rosh Hashanahs throughout the year when we partake worthily of the sacrament by repenting and engaging in introspection during the passing of the bread and water. Instead of the shofar, we have the sacrament prayers.”

The devoted spend time worshipping in the synagogue, where the rabbi wears white to symbolize purity. No work is allowed on Rosh Hashanah, as with the Sabbath.

When the services and prayers are completed, Jewish families return home and have a large meal. One of the traditional dishes is apple slices dipped in honey, which represent the hope for a sweet New Year. Another is the “challah,” traditionally a braided bread, served as a round loaf to symbolize the circle of life and God’s crown.

Jews offer a blessing to one another, Leshanah tovah tikateiv veteichateim, which means, “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”


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