Throughout Israel, Jews are preparing for the upcoming holidays by reflecting on the past year, making amends with people whom they wronged and reciting penitential slichot (repentance) prayers.

By United with Israel staff

During this time, many Jews even travel to Jerusalem specifically to ask God for forgiveness. Indeed, the Jewish New Year – or Rosh Hashana, as it is called in Hebrew – is a time of forgiveness, atonement and renewal.

In addition to its religious dimension, Rosh Hashana represents a rich cultural experience. Families cook a variety of aromatic foods to be served over two days of feasting in celebration of the Jewish New Year.

Regardless of religious observance, many Israeli families eat foods on Rosh Hashana in a specific order (seder, in Hebrew) as symbols of the blessings that the Jewish people seek at this time.

Foods generally served at a Rosh Hashana meal include apples with honey, pomegranates, meat from the head of an animal (usually either lamb or fish), dates, lubiya (which is similar to green beans) and krisha, which is like onion.

Following the seder, Jews traditionally eat a large, festive meal with all kinds of foods on display, ranging from kugels, roasts and vegetables in Ashkenazi families to kebabs, rice and Middle Eastern salads in Mizrahi or Sephardi families.

Many Jews also serve sweet, round challah bread. Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews typically enjoy Middle Eastern pastries, such as kedayif and baklava at the Rosh Hashana meal. Traditionally, sweets are also served to represent a sweet New Year.

For Jewish families in Israel, Rosh Hashana provides important family time. Rosh Hashana represents one of several times in the year reserved for familial bonding, national unity and closeness to God.

Rosh Hashana