Rosh Hashanah

or Rosh Ha·sha·na, Rosh Ha·sho·noh, Rosh Ha·sho·no

[ rohshhah-shaw-nuh, -shah-, huh-, rawsh; Ashkenazic Hebrew rohshhah-shaw-nuh; Sephardic Hebrew rawshhah-shah-nah ]
/ ˈroʊʃ hɑˈʃɔ nə, -ˈʃɑ-, hə-, ˈrɔʃ; Ashkenazic Hebrew ˈroʊʃ hɑˈʃɔ nə; Sephardic Hebrew ˈrɔʃ hɑ ʃɑˈnɑ /
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a Jewish high holy day that marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year, celebrated on the first and second days of Tishri by Orthodox and Conservative Jews and only on the first day by Reform Jews.
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Origin of Rosh Hashanah

First recorded in 1840–50, Rosh Hashanah is from Hebrew rōsh hashshānāh literally, “beginning of the year”
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What is Rosh Hashanah?

Rosh Hashanah is a Jewish holiday that marks the start of the Jewish New Year.

It’s celebrated at the beginning of Tishri, the first month of the Jewish calendar.

In Judaism, Rosh Hashanah commemorates the creation of the world, and is considered one of holiest days of the year for Jews. It starts a period of penitence that culminates nine days later on Yom Kippur, which is considered the holiest day of the year and is devoted to atoning for sins (it is also called the Day of Atonement). This period is referred to as the High Holidays or the Days of Awe

Rosh Hashanah is observed differently within different sects of Judaism, but it’s often observed with penitential prayers, the blowing of the shofar (a ram’s horn used as an instrument), and special services, including readings from a prayer book called the mahzor. Rosh Hashanah is a day of rest on which Jews are forbidden from doing work.

Rosh Hashanah is sometimes spelled Rosh Hashana, Rosh Hashonoh, or Rosh Hashono.

A traditional greeting for Rosh Hashanah is L’Shana Tova, which means “good year.”

When is Rosh Hashanah?

Rosh Hashanah is celebrated each year at the beginning of Tishri, the first month of the Jewish calendar. Orthodox and Conservative Jews celebrate it on the first and second days of Tishri, while Reform Jews celebrate it only on the first day. Because the Jewish calendar is a lunisolar calendar, the specific dates on which Rosh Hashanah falls change each year.

In 2022, Rosh Hashanah will begin on the evening of September 25. In 2023, it will begin on the evening of September 15.

More information and context on Rosh Hashanah

The first records of the name Rosh Hashanah in English come from the mid-1800s, but its origins are ancient. It comes from the Hebrew rōsh hashshānāh, meaning “beginning of the year.” (The word rosh means “beginning” and is also used in the term Rosh Hodesh, which refers to the beginning of a new month in the Jewish calendar.)

Rosh Hashanah is often observed as a time for somber reflection. According to Jewish tradition, the period that begins with Rosh Hashanah and ends with Yom Kippur is when God renders judgment, so many Jews use the time to pray and make amends for the wrongs they have committed.

A Rosh Hashanah ritual known as Tashlich involves participants gathering along the banks of a river or stream and symbolically casting off their sins and reciting prayers of repentance.

Some Jews wear new clothes on the day and use special table settings during the meal, which consists of food symbolizing positive wishes for the new year. Traditional dishes include challah and apples dipped in honey.

What are some terms that often get used in discussing Rosh Hashanah?

How is Rosh Hashanah discussed in real life?

For Jews, Rosh Hashanah is often a time of somber reflection while also being a time to celebrate the new year.



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Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year.

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British Dictionary definitions for Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashana

/ (ˈrɒʃ həˈʃɑːnə, Hebrew ˈrɔʃ haʃaˈna) /

the festival marking the Jewish New Year, celebrated on the first and second days of Tishri, and marked by penitential prayers and by the blowing of the shofar

Word Origin for Rosh Hashanah

from Hebrew rōsh hasshānāh, literally: beginning of the year, from rōsh head + hash-shānāh year
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah
[ (rosh-huh-shah-nuh; rosh-huh-shoh-nuh) ]

The festival of the New Year in Judaism, falling in September or October. Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the eight days in between are special days of penitence.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.