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Rosh Hashanah 2023: Jewish New Year arrives at sundown Friday night

As the sun sets and ushers in the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, Jewish communities around the world come together to observe this significant holiday, marked by reflection, prayer, and the sounding of the shofar.

The shofar, an ancient musical instrument made from a ram’s horn, takes center stage during Rosh Hashanah and at the conclusion of Yom Kippur, which is ten days later. Rabbi Meir Moscowitz of Lubavitch Chabad recently demonstrated the traditional blowing of the shofar, explaining its deep symbolism.

“The shofar is our calling out to God and saying, ‘God, this is a new year. We want to connect with you. We want that relationship,'” Rabbi Moscowitz shared.

Rosh Hashanah, often referred to as the “head of the year,” marks the beginning of a month of important Jewish holy days. Observant Jewish people gather in synagogues to welcome the new year, which happens to coincide with the Jewish Sabbath this year.

Sweets play a significant role in Rosh Hashanah customs, symbolizing the hope for a sweet year ahead. Many congregations, including Rabbi Moscowitz’s, engage in community activities to prepare and distribute sweet packages to members.

“This month and this day directs the year to come. So, it’s a time of reflection, a time of reconnecting with God,” Rabbi Moscowitz explained.

Beyond its role as the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah carries deep spiritual significance. It is a time for introspection and seeking forgiveness for sins committed during the previous year. Falling in either September or October, depending on the Jewish calendar, Rosh Hashanah this year coincides with the start of the Jewish Sabbath, which adds a unique layer of observance.

Candle lighting is another cherished tradition during Rosh Hashanah, symbolizing the desire for light and peace in the home and community.

“It reminds us of our purpose in this world as it relates to our relationship with our creator,” Rabbi Moscowitz emphasized.

Central to the celebration is prayer, with a dedicated 320-page prayer book crafted specifically for the two days that Rosh Hashanah spans. These prayers reflect the themes of renewal, forgiveness, and seeking a closer connection with God, setting the tone for the year ahead as Jewish communities worldwide come together in unity and faith to observe this significant holiday.

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