Rosh Hashanah means “head of the year” and is the Jewish new year. It is the first of the Fall Holy Feasts commanded by God in the book of Leviticus. I enjoy learning about the Jewish feasts with my kids and thought I’d put a post together for how to celebrate Rosh Hashanah in case you guys would enjoy learning about it with us!
This year Rosh Hashanah falls on September 29, 2019-October 1, 2019. It is a happy time celebrated with prayer reading, blowing of the shofar (ram’s horn), and special foods. It is also a serious time of prayer asking God for peace, prosperity, forgiveness, and blessings.
Rosh Hashanah is known as the Day of Judgement on which God opens the book of life. This book is then sealed, 10 days later, on Yom Kippur.
Greetings such as “May you be inscribed and sealed [in the book of life] for a good year” are used during this time.
What is Rosh Hashanah and how is it Celebrated?
I love Jewish traditions. Many of them have been lost with Christianity and I wish that wasn’t the case. Their significance and symbolism are fascinating and still important to us who believe in Christ.
This is not meant to be an in-depth study, but I will include links as I go in case you want to read more. My goal is to provide a basic outline and simple learning adventure on how to celebrate Rosh Hashanah with enjoyable facts and activities. Keep reading for:
- Rosh Hashanah in the Bible
- What about the Book of Life?
- Rosh Hashanah Foods
- Rosh Hashanah Facts
- Activities for Kids
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Rosh Hashanah in the Bible
I find it interesting that it is recorded two times that God wished for the Children of Israel to have a feast with the blowing of the shofar on the first day of the seventh month, but He doesn’t say much about WHY.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.’ (Leviticus 23:23-25 NKJV)
And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work. For you it is a day of blowing the trumpets. (Numbers 29:1)
Hebrew4Christistians explains that the sages believe that just as the seventh day is holy, God wishes for the seventh month to be holy also.
We know that 1,000 years later after the Babylonian captivity while Judah is trying to rebuild Jerusalem and restore obedience to the Law of Moses, they celebrated Rosh Hashanah.
Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate from morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law. (Nehemiah 8:1-3)
And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.
Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. (Nehemiah 8:9-10)
What about the Book of Life?
Is it true that we are or are not written in the book of life and does such an important book exist?
And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:12-15)
Scary, isn’t it?
He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. (Revelation 3:5)
In Philippians 4:3, Paul mentions the faithful who are written in the book of life.
Jesus tells his disciples in Luke 10:20 “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
Praise God that Jesus died on the cross and through faith in him our names are written in that book!
Perhaps we should all take these days of reflection, prayer, and repentance seriously in our own faith walk.
Rosh Hashanah Foods: What do you do for Rosh Hashana Dinner?
Apples and honey are the most well known of the Rosh Hashanah foods, symbolizing the sweetness we hope the new year possesses. Sweet foods are high on the list of Rosh Hashanah foods for that same reason.
Like all holidays, Rosh Hashanah has several dishes that have become traditional.
Challah is the Jewish sabbath/ holiday bread and symbolizes the manna God supplied to the Children of Israel while they were in the wilderness. There is quite a variety of challah from sweet with fruit to whole wheat to gluten-free. Most are braided, symbolizing love, truth, peace, and justice depending on the number of strands.
Different challah is used for different holidays. My Jewish Learning explains this in more detail. I didn’t know the significance of challah until I began researching for this post. I think the kids and I will attempt baking it this year!
A common Rosha Hashanah expression “May we be full of merits like the pomegranate (is full of seeds)”
An ancient fruit, the pomegranate, is highly symbolic in Jewish tradition. It is mentioned in the Bible multiple times and is featured in many Rosh Hashanah dishes.
Honey cake for a sweet new year! I think the kids and I are going to try this one too!
Rosh Hashanah Facts
A few Rosh Hashanah facts aside from what the Bible says to help you understand some of the traditions that have developed over the years. This will also help you come up with ways to celebrate Rosh Hashanah with your family.
- Rosh Hashanah is celebrated as the day God created the universe.
- Tashlich is a popular tradition in which people throw bread crumbs or pieces of bread, symbolizing their sins, into flowing water.
- Rosh Hashanah is celebrated on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei.
- This begins the beginning of a 10 day period known as Yamin-norim or Days of Awe.
- Blowing the shofar (ram’s horn) is a big part of the morning services. It is blown up to 100 times.
- The birth of Isaac is read during the first Rosh Hashanah service followed by the story of the birth of the Prophet Samuel. It is believed that both births happened on Rosh Hashanah.
- During the second morning service of the Rosh Hashanah feast, the story of Abraham nearly sacrificing Isaac is read. Blowing the shofar is symbolic to the ram God provided in place of Isaac.
Rosh Hashanah Activities for Kids
Check out this cute gratitude journal for kids and help them celebrate the goodness of God in their lives! Click the image below 🙂
Some fun Rosh Hashanah activities for kids can be as simple as dipping apple slices in honey, learning to bake challah together or making shofars with toilet paper rolls and party noisemakers.
I personally love the idea of digging into a pomegranate and counting the seeds. It is said that the number of seeds in your pomegranate is equal to the good deeds you will do in the following year.
Pomegranate mask by 10 Minutes of Quality Time is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.
Tori Avey has a wonderful recipe for honey apple cupcakes with printable cupcake toppers.
Coloring Folders has a cute Rosh Hashanah Coloring Page
Another good idea is introducing your kids to Tashlich. Even young children would understand the concept of casting off of hurts or wrongdoings.
How to Celebrate Rosh Hashanah with your Family
I don’t know about you, but I am so excited to celebrate Rosh Hashanah with my family. I learned tons while researching for this post and I am ready to go beyond apples and honey!
Check out the other two posts in this series!
Do you enjoy learning about the Old Testament feasts? What special occasions do you celebrate with your family?
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