Jewish new year begins at sundown

Students celebrate Rosh Hashanah with prayer

The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, translated as “head of the year,” starts tonight and will be celebrated by Jewish students on and off campus.

Jennifer Meinwald, sophomore psychology major, said Rosh Hashanah is more traditional than the New Year Jan. 1.

“It’s about starting the year off fresh, while many Americans celebrate the holiday by getting wasted,” she said.

Jacob Moskowitz, senior hospitality major, said the Jan. 1 New Year seems to be just a celebration and a party atmosphere.

“When you talk about Rosh Hashanah, you are talking about a spiritual beginning to a new year as well as doing many rituals and prayers that are done once a year,” he said. “It is the first of the High Holidays.”

Most Jewish people do not attend classes or go to work over the holiday. Rosh Hashanah, which also translates to “day of rest,” is spent in prayer. That’s also used in preparing for Yom Kippur, one of the most holy Jewish holidays. The central themes of Yom Kippur are atonement and repentance and are spent fasting and praying.

The Torah, the Hebrew holy book, defines Rosh Hashanah as a “day of observance.” Because the days in the Hebrew calendar begin at sundown, the Jewish New Year will begin then.

One ancient Jewish practice, performed on the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah, is called “Tashlikh,” which is when the previous year’s sins are symbolically “cast off” by throwing bread into a natural body of flowing water.

Tonight, Jewish students will greet each other with the phrase, “shana tova,” which is Hebrew for “have a good year.” The holiday will proceed by praying in synagogue, hearing the shofar (which is traditionally made from a ram’s horn), refraining from work and eating festive meals until Sunday.

Traci Hoffman, freshman education major, will be celebrating the holiday with her family and friends.

“The Jewish New Year starts at sundown, and my family and I usually go to services and eat a festive meal,” she said. “It’s not a party with your friends because it’s more family-oriented.”

Hillel will be providing Rosh Hashanah services tonight and tomorrow afternoon at the Cohn Jewish Student Center to celebrate the holiday.

Contact religion reporter Erinn Best at [email protected]