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Rosh Hashanah – Bringing in the New Year

Rosh Hashana

Celebrating holidays in Israel as a Masa Israel Teaching fellow allows you to live Israel up to the fullest through your work and the local daily life. One of these holidays is Rosh Hashanah, marking the beginning of the Jewish New Year. 

Rosh Hashanah, literally meaning ‘the head of the year’, is the traditional anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve according to the Hebrew Bible. It takes place in the Fall, on the first day of Tishrei, the first month.

The origin of the Hebrew New Year is connected to the beginning of the economic and agricultural year and the beginning of the cycle of sowing, growth, and harvest. 

But today, this festive holiday is full of customs and traditions, prayers and traditional meals:

Sounding the Shofar (ram’s horn)

Lighting candles

Festive meals


Attending synagogue


Tashlich comes from the word ‘to cast’, as ancient Jewish custom to cast away our sins and start anew. It’s performed on the first day of Rosh Hashanah on the shores of a riverbank or the sea. 

Attending Services in Synagogue

During the eve and two days of Rosh Hashanah attending synagogue involves prayers and the sounding of the Shofar. Both men and women are welcome to attend services. 

 Festive Meals

One of the fun and heartwarming traditions is sitting down with family and friends and enjoying the traditional dishes of Rosh Hashanah:

A round sweet Challah – to symbolize the hope for a sweet and round New Year

Apples dipped in honey – dipping sour apples (the past year) in sweet honey are a wish and a prayer for a good new year ahead

Dishes with the head of a fish, pomegranates, and other foods symbolizing our wishes for the coming year to be an excellent one.

Shofar Blowing

The main commandment of Rosh Hashanah is to hear the Shofar blown on the morning of the holiday. The blowing of the Shofar is considered a spiritual act that speaks to every Jewish person. The first 30 blasts are following the Torah reading and as many as 70 are then blown during the following prayers. 

Candle Lighting

Although candle lighting takes place on the Sabbath and is a common tradition on numerous Jewish holidays, women and girls light the candles on each eve of the holiday, while reciting prayers.

Celebrating the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah can be an uplifting and spiritual experience especially when in Israel. As part of your Masa Israel Journey, you have the opportunity to teach English in Israel while still surrounding yourself with the customs of Israel, Jewish holidays, and culture.