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Rosh Hashanah in Israel


When is Rosh Hashanah?

The month of Elul is the final month in the Jewish year. This month is a particularly propitious time for prayer, self introspection, and repentance. It is a time of intense spiritual preparation for the coming year and the upcoming holiday of Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah is the first and second days of the first Jewish month of Tishrei.

Rosh Hashanah Cards

The years between the end of the 19th century and the end of World War I (1898-1918) is known as the Golden Age of Postcards. The vast majority of the mail sent by Jews in Europe and America consisted of New Year cards.
The cards usually featured Jewish motifs: traditional and ideological symbols or illustrations depicting events of note in Jewish history. With the advent of the Zionist movement, New Year cards became a platform for conveying ideological messages and Zionist perspectives on current events.

What is Rosh Hashanah?

The festival of Rosh Hashanah—the name means “Head of the Year”—since it is observed for two days beginning on 1 Tishrei, the first day of the Jewish year. It is the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, and their first actions toward the realization of mankind’s role in G‑d’s world.

Israeli Rosh Hashanah Stamps

Rosh Hashanah thus emphasizes the special relationship between G‑d and humanity: our dependence upon G‑d as our creator and sustainer, and G‑d’s dependence upon us as the ones who make His presence known and felt in His world. Each year on Rosh Hashanah, “all inhabitants of the world pass before G‑d like a flock of sheep,” and it is decreed in the heavenly court “who shall live, and who shall die . . . who shall be impoverished, and who shall be enriched; who shall fall and who shall rise.” But this is also the day we proclaim G‑d King of the Universe. The Kabbalists teach that the continued existence of the universe is dependent upon the renewal of the divine desire for a world when we accept G‑d’s kingship each year on Rosh Hashanah.

Shofar (Jewish ritual horn) שופר Photo: Zachi Evenor
Shofar (Jewish ritual horn) שופר
Photo: Zachi Evenor

The central observance of Rosh Hashanah is the sounding of the shofar, the ram’s horn, which also represents the trumpet blast of a people’s coronation of their king. The cry of the shofar is also a call to repentance, for Rosh Hashanah is also the anniversary of man’s first sin and his repentance thereof, and serves as the first of the “Ten Days of Repentance” which culminate in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Another significance of the shofar is to recall the Binding of Isaac which also occurred on Rosh Hashanah, in which a ram took Isaac’s place as an offering to G‑d; we evoke Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice his son, and plead that the merit of his deed should stand by us as we pray for a year of life, health and prosperity. Altogether, we listen to one hundred shofar blasts over the course of the Rosh Hashanah services.

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