Fall Holiday Really a New Year Celebration

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Kurt Strazdins

When you bring up why we have a day off, you normally get the same response – “thank you, Jewish friends, for a day off from school.”

But not many people recognize the importance of this holiday.

Rosh Hashanah, also known as Jewish New Year, is celebrated in either one or two days, depending on denomination. Similar to the Chinese, Judaism has its own separate calendar, and Rosh Hashanah begins on the first day of the year in the month of Tishrei.

In Judaism, God is said to begin deciding who shall live and who shall die in the new year. The time frame between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – another Jewish holiday that is ten days after Rosh Hashanah – is the time for Jews to repent and ensure good fortune, known as the Days of Awe.

Rosh Hashanah is celebrated by going to synagogues and praying. One important prayer book read by rabbis is known as the Mazchor. Another significant part of the holiday is the blowing of the shofar, which is a trumpet made out of a ram’s horn.

This day off, for Jewish people, is a day of contemplation and reflection. A common saying on this day, “shana tovah u’mekutah,” – for a good and sweet new year.