An early Shana Tova(Good Year!) to you! The Jewish holiday is celebrated throughout the world by Jews and others wishing to get in on the cultural festivities. Madonna even spent one Rosh Hashanah in Israel, and though not Jewish, she is a fervent student of Kaballah, Jewish mysticism. And for those who celebrate with a loved one, a friend or just know someone at work who is celebrating Rosh Hashanah, there is a great guide for Gentiles who want to be “in the know” for the beginning of High Holy Days.
The Jewish calendar is not the same as the Julian calendar, the calendar by which the world uses to make dates, celebrate holidays, plan vacations, and, of course, put the nose to the grindstone and work. Rosh Hashanah is celebrated on the 1st and 2nd days of the Hebrew month “Tishrei,”and actually begins on the 29th (and last) night of the month Elul.It is the only Jewish holiday which last for two whole days, considered one long day, which emphasizes how important it is.
While Rosh Hashanah is a Jewish holiday, celebrating the new year can have implications for non-Jews as well. It is a time for personal introspection, as well as prayer, a time to decide what we can and are willing to change about our lives, a time to reflect on what we have done, and ask forgiveness from those we have wronged. These are the days when God judges people’s deeds throughout the year and decides their future for the coming year. A symbolic custom of Rosh Hashanah is to walk to an open body of water(pools, ponds, and lazy rivers in water parks do not count) and shake out the pockets, thereby “shaking one sins into the water.” Another symbolic tradition is the dipping of apples in honey in hopes for a sweet year.
Don’t be alarmed if you hear horns blowing . A ram’s horn, or a shofar, is blown in single, triple and nine-blast groupings to signify God’s rule over the world, and also serve as a reminder to the Jews of receiving the commandments on Mt. Sinai, as well as of Abraham and Isaac’s devotion to God, and to rouse people into repentance.
It is customary to wish everyone a Shana Tova(Good Year), as it is in the rest of the world to say HAPPY NEW YEAR after the ball has officially dropped in every time zone.
Most shops and businesses are closed on these days, but Tel Aviv is Israel’s city of sin, and maybe cafes and restaurants are open to accommodate the less religious, or non-Jewish, visitors/citizens to and of Tel Aviv. But if you’re looking for an authentic experience, head into a synagogue for a glimpse of the traditional Rosh Hashanah celebrations. Everyone is permitted, Jews and non-Jews alike. Depending on the synagogue, there may be some special requirements, but overall women should be dressed modestly before entering a holy place. When unsure, ask someone walking into the synagogue if you look okay.
However, if you’re not interested in the religious aspects of Rosh Hashanah, there are still plenty of things to do in Tel Aviv on September 8th and 9th. Here are just a few options:
September 9: Stand-up Marathon – 3 Hours of Comedy
September 9: The Groovatron
September 10: Nana’s Friends
September 8: Live Music 9PM
September 2-October 2
Showing of Gideon Tomaschoff
Calendar of other Rosh Hashanah events
Tel Aviv is a great city, especially during the New Year when people feel more alive, and are thinking about changes they can make to improve their lives and the world. Jewish or not, what can you do to make the world a little sweeter? Start by dipping some apples and maybe something will come to mind…