Rosh Ha'Shanah - a feast for all the senses
Wherever you live, Rosh Ha'Shanah (literally the new or head of the year) is a wonderful holiday. It touches all of the senses. We hear the shofar, we taste holiday wines and the sweet honey, we smell the simmering soup and roasted meat and we see our loved ones as we sit down to a festive meal. Celebrating with friends and family and having the luxury of time to contemplate all that we have accomplished and what we want to achieve in the coming year. How could it be any more special?
It's a very special time in Israel
Rosh Ha'Shanah in Israel lifts the physical and spiritual aspects of the holiday to a new level. Here, we can hear people blowing shofar from their living rooms, their terraces and their kitchen windows, as well as in many public places, throughout the entire month of Elul (the last month on the Hebrew calendar).
Rosh Ha'Shanah begins on the first and second days of the month of Tishrei (the first month of the Hebrew calendar). And speaking of calendars, in Israel you'll get calendars of all shapes and sizes, marked with all of the Jewish holidays from your bank, your hairdresser, your supermarket, your pharmacy, your butcher and even your accountant! Public buses sport rolling neon signs announcing "Shanah Tova" (Happy New Year)! The whole country enters a celebratory mode. There's a sense of new beginnings and a fresh start in the air. That 'Rosh Ha'Shanah feeling' is everywhere and it is felt by everyone!
Enter the Pomegranate
Pomegranates, called rimonim in Hebrew, are a staple at every Israeli table on Rosh Ha'Shanah, as they are fully ripe and ready-to-be-picked at this time of year. There are a number of reasons for eating pomegranates on Rosh Ha'Shanah, one of them is the belief that all pomegranates contain 613 seeds, the exact number of mitzvot or commandments.
Welcome to multitasking the holidays!
This is the time of year that we're simultaneously preparing holiday menus while mapping out the best trails for the Sukkot holiday week, that falls out a mere 12 days later, as well as thinking about the best place to dance for Simchat Torah (the Holiday that falls out at the end of Sukkot). We multitask our holidays - it's hectic, boisterous, spiritually intense and we wouldn't have it any other way!
In addition, during this holiday period, when you meet a friend on the street or talk to them on the phone, their first question is always: "Where are you for the Holiday?"; which means: where are you eating your holiday meals? No matter what your age, background or profession, in Israel sharing holiday meals is a national pastime.
Rosh Ha'Shanah symbols
Along with the holiday meals, other symbols of Rosh Ha'Shanah, seen everywhere in Israel, include shofars (rams' horns), mountains of braided challot in special round shapes and honey, in crazy quantities, for a sweet year!
Did you know that Israelis consume more than 250 grams - about 9 ounces of honey - per person - during the single month of Tishrei?
Do you have a fond memory of a Rosh Ha'Shanah meal or a visit to Israel during the holiday period? Let us know, we'd love to hear from you!
In upcoming videos, Israel is Beautiful will be sharing special activities taking place in Israel during the holidays. And until then, wishing everyone a Shanah Tovah U'Metukah - a good and sweet New Year!
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