Happy Rosh Hashanah, says Rabbi Jacobs

Rosh hashanah
Rosh hashanah

Rabbi Mendel Jacobs says Happy New Year as the Jewish community prepare for the beginning of Rosh Hashanah on Sunday evening, September 13.

The festival continues through to Tuesday, September 15 and the rabbi explains the significance and meaning behind it.

The Jewish festival of Rosh Hashanah - the name means Head of the Year - is observed over two days and the beginning of the festival marks the first day of the new Jewish year, 5776.

The central observance of Rosh Hashanah is the sounding of the shofar, the ram’s horn, which is also used to represent 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.

Additional Rosh Hashanah observances include eating a piece of apple dipped in honey, to symbolise our desire for a sweet year, and other special foods symbolic of the new year’s blessings.

We also bless one another with the words “Leshanah tovah tikateiv veteichateim,” “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”

And then ashlich, a special prayer is said near a body of water — an ocean, river or pond — in evocation of the verse: “And you shall cast their sins into the depths of the sea.” Then, we recite kiddush and make a blessing on the challah.

Rabbi Mendel Jacobs together with Avraham, Perel and Devorah wishes the whole community a happy, healthy and sweet new year, 5776.