About the event

Rosh Hashanah, which translates as "the head of the year" is the Jewish New Year festival. It commemorates the creation of the human race and is also a day of God's judgement and personal reflection on one's good and bad deeds over the year. Traditions include:

  • the blowing of the Shofar, a trumpet made from a ram's horn
  • foods emphasising sweetness, such as apples dipped in honey, as a symbol of a sweet new year to come
  • serving round challah bread as a symbol of the year's circle
  • pomegranates are also served - its many seeds symbolise fruitfulness; they are also said to have 613 seeds, which correspond to the 613 commandments of the Torah
  • prayers said by flowing water with sins symbolically cast off into the stream.

How to approach it

This is a great day to introduce students to new cultures and religious practices. If you have Jewish students confident enough, allow them to share their experience of this day with the class. Ask students to think through what the importance is of Rosh Hashana to Jewish People. What does it signify for them? What core values does it encourage? You could ask students to compare this day to New Years Day on January the first. Ask: What is similar and what is different about these days? What does this say about the cultural values we might share?

Conversation starter

Rosh Hashanah is about a new year and a new start for Jewish people. What is similar to this day and to New Years Day on January 1st? Why do you think different cultures all value looking ahead to the new year?