Rosh Hashanah 2020: Date, Greetings and meaning of Shana Tova

    A child blowing a shofar

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    A shofar is blown at the start of Rosh Hashana (Picture: tovfla)

    Rosh Hashanah begins today, a two-day celebration which usually takes place in September or October that marks the first day of the Jewish new year.

    The event begins at sundown, customarily with the blowing of the shofar, the ram’s horn, which is meant to wake up people from their slumber.

    Here is the lowdown on Rosh Hashanah and some greetings you can use to celebrate the day.

    What is Rosh Hashanah?

    Rosh Hashanah – literally meaning the head of the year in Hebrew – marks the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days and the first day of the Jewish new year.

    It is the anniversary of when God created Adam and Eve.

    Usually, a prayer service is held in a synagogue where an instrument made from the horn of a kosher animal (known as a shofar) is blown.

    However, the restrictions around religious ceremonies and access to places of worship in the UK vary from region to region due to the Covid-19 outbreak, so it is best to check with your synagogue for local restrictions.

    An Orthodox Jew wears a protective mask

    Rosh Hashana will look a lot different this year due to the coronavirus pandemic (Picture: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP via Getty Images)

    Another key part of Rosh Hashanah is tzedakah, or giving back to those in need.

    Throughout Rosh Hashanah, people will carry out good deeds in the hope that God will mark their names in the Book of Life, which will give them a happy and fruitful year ahead.

    Apples, pomegranate, honey, and challah bread are traditionally eaten during the celebrations.

    When is Rosh Hashanah?

    Rosh Hashanah is a two day event that begins at sundown tonight (September 18) and continues through nightfall on September 20.

    The first two days of the Jewish new year are called Tishrei 1 and 2.

    Pomegranates, apples, honey, and challah bread is traditionally eaten (Picture: Cavan images)

    What does Shana Tova mean and what are some other greetings?

    Shana Tova is the shortened greeting for Rosh Hashanah.

    It’s cut down from the traditional greeting of ‘L’shanah tovah tikatev v’taihatem’, which means ‘may you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.’

    The most common greeting to hear during this occasion is L’shanah tovah, which means ‘for a good year.’

    You can also say ‘Shanah Tovah um’tukah’, which means ‘may you have a good and sweet new year.’

    If you’re afraid of butchering the pronunciation, a simple ‘happy new year’ would still be greatly appreciated by your Jewish friends.

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