When Rosh Hashanah Begins on the Sabbath

Friday September 18, 2009 marks the start of the Jewish New Year, known asRosh Hashanah. This year, the first of the two-day holiday will coincide with the Jewish Sabbath, which begins at sunset on Friday and ends at sunset on Saturday. The coincidence means a few changes in the normal Rosh Hashanah schedule.

The primary change is that the shofar, a hollowed out rams horn blow on the New Year to harken a period of reflection and repentance, will not blown on the first day of Rosh Hashana. Carrying the shofar is a potential transgression of the Sabbath, and therefore blowing it is off limits, too — a sort of “fence” around the prohibition to carry. Rest assured, the “clarion call” of the world’s oldest wind instrument will be heard on Sunday — the second day of the New Year.

Additionally, the Tashlich ceremony, which is typically performed on the first day of Rosh Hashana, must be delayed until after Shabbat. During Tashlich, breadcrumbs are tossed from one’s pockets into a flowing body of water, a symbolic casting off of one’s sins from the past year.

The Tashlich ritual may be performed without penalty on the second day of Rosh Hashanah — or any day up until the second to last day of the Sukkot holiday. Also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, Sukkot is an eight-day festival, which begins two weeks after Rosh Hashanah.