Did You Know? Facts & Figures About Rosh Hashana

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, occurring on the first and second days of the Hebrew month of Tishrei. Since the Hebrew calendar is based on a lunar cycle, the dates of Rosh Hashanah diduknowvary according to the Gregorian calendar; however, the holiday always falls during either September or October.

Here are some more facts and figures you may not know about the Jewish New Year and the Jewish faith.

Did you know…
that the holiday of Rosh Hashanah was first instituted in the Bible? In Leviticus, G-d told Moses: “Speak unto the children of Israel, saying: In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall be a solemn rest unto you, a memorial proclaimed with the blast of horns, a holy convocation. Ye shall do no manner of servile work; and ye shall bring an offering made by fire unto G-d.”

Did you know…
that Rosh Hashanah has several names by which it is referred to in the Bible, including Yom Teruah (the Day of the Shofar) and Yom Ha-Zikkaron (the Day of Remembrance)? The name Yom Teruah refers to the shofar, the hollowed out ram’s horn that is blown 100 times on Rosh Hashanah. The name Yom Ha-Zikkaron reminds Jews of their responsibilities as G-d chosen people.

Did you know…
that Rosh Hashanah is also referred to as the Day of Judgment? This moniker invokes the Jewish belief that on Rosh Hashanah, G-d judges each person and determines his or her fate for the coming year.

Did you know…
that Rosh Hashanah is one of three new years in the Jewish faith? Tishrei, the month in which Rosh Hashanah falls, is actually the 7th month of the calendar year. Rosh Hashanah celebrates the creation of the world and marks the beginning of the new calendar year. Nissan is the first month of the year and when the Jewish holiday of Passover falls. Nissan was historically the start of a new year for the counting of kings’ reign. Tu B’Shevat, which falls on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shevat, is the new year for trees — the date by which observant Jews determine whether a tree’s first fruits may be harvested and eaten.

Did you know…
that “May you be inscribed in the Book of Life,” is the typical greeting on Rosh Hashanah? On the Jewish New Year, it is believed that G-d records the destiny of each human being in the Book of Life.

Did you know…
that the Book of Life is sealed on Yom Kippur, and with it, everyone’s fate? The period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is the most serious in the Jewish calendar, as it is believed that the fate that was written on Rosh Hashanah may still be changed until Yom Kippur, through sincere repentance.

Did you know…
that Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the only Jewish holidays that are purely religious? Unlike other major festivals such as Sukkot and Passover (Pesach), Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are not tied to historical or agricultural events.

Did you know…
that the Jewish month of Elul immediately precedes Tishrei, the month in which the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur fall? The month of Elul is considered a “warming up” period of reflection and repentance, during which special selichot, or forgiveness, services are recited daily.

Did you know…
that on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, it is customary to visit a river, lake or pond, to symbolically “cast away” ones sins into the water? The custom, called Tashlich — meaning “casting off” — is delayed if the first day of Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbat, as it does in 2009.

Did you know…
that on Rosh Hashanah, families and friends customarily gather for a holiday meal? Traditional foods include apples dipped in honey, round challot, carrots, pomegranates, and dates.

Did you know…
that a shofar, the world’s oldest wind instrument, is ritually blown on Rosh Hashanah? The piercing sound of the shofar, which is made from a hollowed out ram’s horn, serves as a clarion call to worshippers to repent.

Did you know…
that there are some six million Jewish people living in Israel, which accounts for approximately 41% of the world Jewish population? Three out of four citizens of the state of Israel are Jewish.

Did you know…
that in the United States, where less than 2 percent of the population is Jewish, approximately 5.5 million Jews reside.

Did you know…
that the next largest Jewish population is in France, where nearly half a million Jews live. In France, the Jewish community accounts for less than 1 percent of the country’s total population.

Did you know…
that today there are fewer than 15 million Jews living worldwide, which constitutes 0.2 percent of the world’s population. The Jewish faith is practiced in 134 out of the world’s 238 countries.

Did you know…
that Judaism is the world’s smallest monotheistic religion?

Did you know…
that prior to World War II, there were over 16 million Jewish people? More than 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.

Did you know…
that five Jewish holidays are celebrated during the month of September or early October? These holidays include Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shemeni Atzeret and Simchat Torah.

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