Shana Tova u’Metuka!

What makes Rosh ha-Shanah special

The Jewish year 5778 begins today—and with it a very special time for the Jewish community worldwide. Rosh ha-Shanah is the beginning of the High Holy Days, the Yamim Noraim (literally “Days of Awe”) as they’re known in Hebrew.
I asked around my friend group a bit to find out what Rosh ha-Shanah means to them personally:

Sapir, 27, Munich:

This year I’m celebrating Rosh ha-Shanah with friends in the Munich community on Wednesday evening. After the official service in the synagogue, there will be a communal student meal with songs and little games. For me, Rosh ha-Shanah means reflecting on the previous year, but it’s also the beginning of the time of slichot (requests for forgiveness) that lasts until Yom Kippur. I believe that, above all, this time is about meditating on the important things in life, and, for example, dedicating yourself to unresolved issues from the previous year. But the most important thing is to eat apples with honey and to really look forward to a sweet year.

Tobi, 27, Berlin:

I will mainly celebrate Rosh ha-Shanah in the synagogue, but also with friends at home. Personally, the holiday has a function similar to a reset button, so that you can have a sort of fresh start. The thing I really like about Rosh ha-Shanah is its emphasis on the “sweet” things. And the shofar. And tashlich. Oh, it’s just a great holiday!

Diana, 30, Tel Aviv:

This year I’m spending Rosh ha-Shanah with my boyfriend’s family, my first time celebrating the holiday in Jerusalem. I’ve said so often: “Next year in Yerushalaim,” and this year I’ll actually be there. I’m really excited about it! For me, Rosh ha-Shanah is a symbol of something familiar and at the same time something new. I like how you can sense the cheer and festivity in the air and on the streets. It’s also neat how everyone here already starts to prepare for the new year’s holiday two weeks in advance—and that you’re flooded with pomegranates.

Like Sapir, Tobi, and Diana, I’m already looking forward to Rosh ha-Shanah: the time together with my family and the community, and of course the many beautiful traditions. The High Holy Days don’t just give us the opportunity to catch our breath from everyday life and to reflect upon our acts and deeds; they also represent an important point of reference in the course of the year, which we can use to orient ourselves, something to hold on to.

On behalf of the blog team and the Jewish Museum Berlin, I wish you all a great new year, but above all a sweet one!

Shana tova!


David Studniberg is spending the Rosh ha-Shanah holiday with his family in Mannheim. There, the tashlich (the symbolic discarding of sins in the form of bread crumbs) traditionally takes place on the banks of the Neckar River—to the great joy of the ducks, swans, and seagulls who have eagerly awaited this day all year.

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