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Israel celebrates New Year

Jews around the world are marking the start of the year 5783.

By Erin Viner

The occasion begins with observance of the beginning of “Days of Awe,” falling on the first day of the month of Tishrei according to the Hebrew calendar.

The focus of the two-day New Year (Rosh HaShanah in Hebrew) commemoration is recognition of God as King.

Traditional activities include sounding of a ram’s horn, known as a “Shofar” in Hebrew, 100 times. Families gather for festive meals featuring the consumption of symbolic foods, such as apples dipped in honey to represent a “sweet” coming year. Pomegranates are also a holiday favorite, as they are considered one of the Seven Species that are native to Israel and mentioned many times in the Bible.

“My hope for the Jewish people this year is that we remember we are one family,” said Israeli Prime Minister Yair in his holiday greeting.

He added, “To our Jewish family all around the world – Shanah Tova, Happy New Year! It does not matter if you’re Orthodox, secular, reform or conservative. It does not matter which synagogue you pray in, or if you pray at all. It does not matter where you were born, or what language you speak. We are one people, with one shared story, with one shared homeland. We should focus on what unites us and know how to talk about the things we disagree upon. That’s what a family does. This year, let’s write the next chapter of our story: a Chapter of Unity.”

The Israeli leader concluded, “From here in Jerusalem, on behalf of myself and the Government of Israel, I want to wish you all, and your loved ones!”

President Isaac Herzog also released a festive greeting to Jewish communities worldwide.

“Dear sisters and brothers from all over the world, Jewish communities big and small, Shanah Tovah to all of you! As we welcome the Jewish New Year 5783, I would like to wish you all a sweet and happy New Year.

“Our ancient Jewish tradition wisely connects the change of seasons with our changes of heart. Indeed, this twilight time between years invites us to embrace change as a people and as individuals. It invites us to reflect on our lives, our choices, and our beliefs. It invites us to question how we can do things better in the coming year, for ourselves, for our families, for our communities. It demands we deepen our attention, and even more so, our intention, to replace bitterness with sweetness.

“Jewish tradition teaches us that on Rosh HaShanah we are inscribed in the Book of Life. But we are not only inscribed as individuals. We rise and fall together, as a people. Let us therefore commit to be inscribed in the Book of Life—together. Let us help each other to be inscribed in the Book of Life—together. Let us debate with compassion, disagree without fear, and work towards each other, rather than away from each other.

“Let us recall the beauty in our unity. Only thus may we fulfill the words of the Psalmist, King David: ‘May there be peace within our walls and security within our citadels. For the sake of my brothers (and I add, sisters) and friends, I say—Peace be with you.’

“From your home away from home, here in the State of Israel, to your homes around the world, I wish you all, Shanah Tovah U’Metukah. Ketivah veChatimah Tovah (A sweet New Year, and good inscription in the Book of Life),” said President Herzog in the Hebrew traditional holiday greeting.