Literally, ‘Rosh Hashanah’ means ‘Head of the Year’ because this holiday is held at the beginning of the Jewish calendar year. It is considered the birthday of the year because, on this day, G-d created Adam and Eve. Rosh Hashanah marks the start of the new year with various customs and traditions that are performed in the hope of securing a happy, healthy, abundant year ahead. This day is also known as the ‘Day of Judgement’ because we set the stage for repentance of the previous year, and pray for G-d to decree upon us a new year of health, happiness, wealth, and everything else we need or want. We believe that like our heads control the actions of our bodies, our actions on Rosh Hashanah affect everything that happens to us the entire year.
Rosh Hashanah takes place on the first day of the Jewish year, which is the 1st of Tishrei. The holiday takes place over two days. This year, the English dates are September 16th and 17th, which means that it starts at sundown on September 15th until after nightfall on September 17th.
Like every Jewish festival, we do not perform melachos on this day. The prohibitions include using electricity, cooking, working, and anything else prohibited on the Sabbath and the holidays.
Additionally, there are specific customs and symbolisms associated with this day:
There are three types of shofar blasts:
The shofar is blown to symbolize the trumpets that are sounded to mark the coronation of a king because we coronate G-d as our King on this day. It is also a reminder of the ram Abraham offered as a sacrifice to G-d in place of his son Isaac on this day. Finally, the blasts mimic the sound of a cry, reminding us to repent for our misdeeds and beg for a positive year to be decreed upon us.