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All you need to know about the High Holidays

The High Holidays

Rosh Hashana & Yom Kippur 2019

As the year comes to an end, on Rosh Chodesh Elul (one month before Rosh Hashana), we begin preparing ourselves for the Jewish New Year. We take different actions such as Shofar blowing, adding in extra prayers including the early morning Selichot prayer, where we confess our sins and ask God for forgiveness.

The High Holidays start with Rosh Hashana - the Jewish new year and end with Yom Kippur. The High Holidays are a holy & special time. We celebrate with friends and family by performing unique customs, traditions and with heartfelt prayers. Read on more to learn all about the High Holiday Season.


Rosh Hashana - The New Year

Rosh Hashana 2019 begins at sundown on Sunday, September 29, and ends in the evening on Tuesday, October 1. Women & girls mark the beginning of the holiday by lighting candles.

Rosh Hashana quite literally means Head of the year. Since on this day, we ask God for a sweet new year filled with blessings, for ourselves, our family, and the world at large.

We reflect and thank God for all that we have been given, and for the many blessings in our life. This, in turn, strengthens our connection to God and creates feelings of joy and deep appreciation. We pause and see how we utilized our time, and most importantly how can we make time count in the upcoming year.

With joy and anticipation, we look forward to beginning a new and fresh start; filled with new opportunities to be better people.

 Ten Days of Repentance

Starting from Rosh Hashana and ending on Yom Kippur, we enter a period called the Ten Days of Repentance. On Rosh Hashana God judges us and our actions from the past year. God, in his mercifulness, knows that we are human and make mistakes, and therefore gave us the opportunity to repent & sincerely mend our ways.

During this time we contemplate the past year. By thinking about our actions and good deeds, to be better people and to make the world a better place. We also ponder on the actions and deeds that we did, that need to be corrected. We begin by asking for forgiveness from friends, family & God. In addition, we take upon ourselves good deeds that will prevent us from doing such actions again. These ten days are a time for positive change.

We also prepare ourselves by adding in extra prayers and charity. It is known that that Teshuva - repentance, Tefillah - prayers,& Tzedakah - charity, help sweeten the judgment. When God sees us do our part, he will surely do his.


Rosh Hashana Greetings

As we get closer to Rosh Hashana, we wish one another a Shana Tova Umetuka - A sweet new year! Many have the custom to send over Shana Tova wishes through Gift Baskets, Boxes & Platters. Our High Holiday gifts are filled with Gourmet foods & treats that are Kosher Pareve.

Check out our Elegant Kosher New Year Gifts that convey wishes for a Shana Tova Umetuka. Perfect to send to friends, family & co-workers.

Don't know what to send for Rosh Hashana?

Click here for New Year Kosher Gifts!

An Deluxe Rosh Hashanah Gift Basket by Gift Kosher

Prayers & The Shofar

On this day many go to synagogue to pray and to hear the sound of the Shofar. The Shofar is made from a ram's horn and is intended to awaken the heart and soul of the people. The blowing of the Shofar is an act of commencing the new year; a powerful and energizing moment for Jews around the world.

A particular Machzor prayer book is used on the High Holidays. A Classic prayer in the Machzor is Avinu Malkeinu - Our father our King. Acknowledging that we have only one God, who is like our father & king. We ask of him to bestow on us abundant blessings of goodness and kindness for the upcoming year.

Symbolic Foods & Festive Meal

On the nights of Rosh Hashana friends and family enjoy a festive meal together with meat, wine Challah, and traditional Holiday foods. We say special blessings on the foods before we eat them.

Round Challah - symbolizes the circle of life.

 Click here for High Holiday Challah Bread

Apples dipped in Honey - Just like honey is sweet, we pray that our year be filled with sweetness.                                                                                                

New Fruit -  a seasonal fruit that you haven't tasted yet

Head of the Fish/ Ram - is served at the table, symbolizes that we should have a year where we are like the "head".

Pomegranate - is eaten symbolizing that we should have a year filled with Mitzvahs and good deeds like the many seeds in a pomegranate.



Rosh Hashana is a rich holiday full of beautiful traditions, and Tashlich is one of them. Tashlich means to "cast" - referring to casting away our sins. Tashlich is best done on the first day of Rosh Hashana; however, the ceremony may be done any time during the High holiday season through Hoshana Rabba, the end of Sukkot.  It is done at a body of water preferably with fish, by reciting a few verses. The prayer speaks about how merciful and loving G-d is. Upon conducting the prayers, we shake our clothing, as a symbol to shake away all sins.

It is not the physical action of shaking ourselves that will grant us atonement. Instead, it is the spiritual awakening and meditation of our sincere efforts to deepen our connection to God which will help refocus us for the coming year.


Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur 2019 begins at sundown on Tuesday, October 8, and ends in the evening on Wednesday, October 9. Women & girls mark the beginning of the holiday by lighting candles.

Yom Kippur is the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, a day when we are closest to God. Yom Kippur touches the soul of all Jews. On this day we reconnect to God & to that Godly spark inside. This, in turn, awakens the desire to do Gods will, and to change ones behavior for the better. 

Yom Kippur is a day of atonement for all our sins. Before this day, we begin preparing ourselves by asking friends and family for forgiveness and by making amends. We wish each other a Chatimah Tova - Good sealing. Since on Rosh Hashanah our fate is written in the book of life, and on Yom Kippur, it is sealed.

Yom Kippur is a day of affliction - for on this day we do not eat or drink for about 26 hours. Also, we do not bathe, apply lotions or creams, wear leather footwear and abstain from marital relationships.  


Yom Kippur Prayers

Yom Kippur is a solemn and reflective day; We spend the entire evening and next day at synagogues in prayers. On this day, the Men wear the Tallit prayer shawl, and some have the custom to wear white. There are five prayer services.

Services begin with the Kol Nidrei prayer - where we nullify all promises and vows we've made, by declaring them as invalid.

The next morning during the Shacharit prayer service, we have the Yizkor memorial service, a prayer for those who lost their loved ones. Many communities have the custom to add memorials for victims of the Holocaust.

Throughout the day we recite confessions - the Viddu prayer

In the afternoon prayers, we read the Haftorah from the Book of Jonah.

Lastly, the evening services end with the final prayer called Neila - which means locking the gates. As this special day comes to an end and our future is being sealed. We turn to God with open hearts asking that he accept our repentance & good resolutions. We ask God to seal us in the Book of life, for a happy, healthy year filled with only good. As the prayers conclude, the blowing of the Shofar is sounded.

Yom Kippur is a spiritual journey that leaves you feeling refreshed and renewed ready with a clean slate to start a new year!

Once the fast is over, we sit down to a meal. Some great foods to have after a fast is dairy and fish. Check out our delicious Bagels, Lox & Cream cheese option. Perfect for your post-fast meal!


On behalf of all of us at Gift Kosher we wish you a Shana Tova Umetuka!

A sweet, Happy & Healthy New Year! 

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