The Jewish New Year known in Hebrew as Rosh Hashanah is upon us. The Jewish community across Britain celebrate Rosh Hashanah on the first day of Tishrei, which is a two-day festival beginning on the evening of 13th September lasting until the evening of 15th September. Tishrei is the first month of the Jewish civil year, but the seventh month of the ecclesiastical year. Rosh Hashanah is the first of the High Holy Nights.
In Hebrew, “rosh” is the word for head, “ha” is the definite article, and “shanah” means year. Thus “Rosh HaShanah” literally means ‘head of the year’, referring to the Jewish day of new year.
The traditional greeting between people on Rosh Hashanah is ‘Shanah Tovah’ which means “A Good Year” in Hebrew.
For many Jews celebrating the High Holidays keeps them in touch with their culture and traditions while being surrounded with people from diverse communities in this global city.
Did you know?
Jews are supposed to begin a self-examination and repentance during the month of Elul, this period culminates of Yamim Nora’im known as beginning with Rosh Hashanah and ending with the holiday of Yom Kippur.
During each morning of the month of Elul the shofar is traditionally blown. The sound of the shofar is intended to awaken the listeners from their “slumbers” and alert them to the coming judgment.
Delicacies during the festive period are sweet in nature which includes apples and honey, to symbolise a sweet new year. Other symbolic foods includes dates, black-eyed peas, leek, spinach and gourd. Pomegranates are used in many traditions, to symbolise being fruitful like the pomegranate with its many seeds.
- There are 263,346 Jews in England and Wales according to the last census although due to the voluntary nature of the question on faith and under-reporting, the Institute for Jewish Policy Research estimates that the actual figure is 284,000.
- After years of decline, the Jewish community increased marginally from 259,927 in the 2001 census.
- In 1951, the Jewish community of the UK was estimated to be 420,000.
- They are the fifth largest religious community in the UK after Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs.
- There are Jews living in every one of the 348 local authority areas in England and Wales, including 4 in Merthyr Tydfil and 4 in the Isles of Scilly.
- Three out of every five UK Jews live in Greater London.
- Over 6,000 people speak Hebrew as their first language and almost 4,000 say that their main language is Yiddish.
- There are more than 26,000 Jewish pupils attending Jewish schools today.
We at HNN wish our Jewish friends Happy Rosh Hashanah.