Two more days to go and it will be Rosh Hashana - the Jewish New Year. This is a very special time when families get together for festive meals, go to synagogue and in general just hang out together. This year I will be spending Rosh Hashana with a dear friend and her family just outside of Tel Aviv. We'll probably rent a cheap car because taking a taxi during this time is next to impossible.
Rosh Hashana celebrates the day that God created Adam and Eve - makes sense I guess.
It is celebrated with many customs:
1. Lighting candles each night
2. Eating special foods specifically those that are sweet as they symbolize a sweet new year. Some of these foods include (but are definitely not limited to): apples, honey, round shaped sweet breads with raisins (challah) and pomegranates. Fish is also eaten (specifically the head of the fish) to symbolize the head of the new year.
3. Listening to the Rabbi blow the ram's horn (called a shofar) on both Rosh Hashana mornings.
4. Special blessings over grape juice or wine.
5. Going to a fresh body of water and doing the 'Tashlich' ceremony. The word "Tashlich" comes from Hebrew and means to throw/cast away (i.e. one's sins).
6. Going to Synagogue and attending services.
7. Staying away from doing regular work.
Point number 7 is really important. In fact, most Jewish people will be parking their car rentals and not touching them for the days of Rosh Hashana as it is forbidden to drive (at least amongst the Orthodox).