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Jewish Festivals
Rosh Hashanah

    Rosh Hashanah means the head of the year and is the Hebrew name for the Jewish New Year Festival. The date varies each year and falls in September or Early October. The people celebrate God's creation of the world and remember the Bible story of Abraham.

    After prayers Jewish families gather for a special meal. The table is covered with dishes using sweet foods such as raisins, carrots and dates. Apples are eaten dipped in honey. The first ten days of this month are the most holiest and solemn period as they must think about the past year and feel sorrow for any bad deeds. They examine their relationship with God, fellow man and ask for forgiveness.

    Tradition speaks of a symbolic book in heaven which was said to have records of those who did good and bad deeds and on Rosh Hashanah all people must account to God for their behavior during the past year. However, all people are given ten days before the New Year and the Day of Atonement Yom Kippur to show they are sorry for any wrong doings they may have done. They do this by performing good deeds and by thinking about how to live a better life in the future. If they are sincere, God was suppose to forgive them and on Yom Kippur he sets down and foretells each person's fate for the next year in the book. He will write them down for a good year.

    They send each other cards with the traditional message "May you be written down for a good year." They exchange the same greetings the day before Rosh Hashanah, when they attend prayers at the synagogue before returning to their homes for a special New Year Eve meal.

    The New Years Eve dinner has, festival candles which are lit and the table is decorated with fresh fruit of the season, especially grapes. Other foods that are served are a type of bread known as Challah, honey cake and honey jar as well as fresh fruits. Fish is also served as it symbolizes fruitfulness and plenty.

    A special service is held on New Year, which ends in the blowing of the shofar. During the service, 100 separate notes may be blown on the shofar. This is the most important ritual to the people who are too ill to attend the service try to find someone to come to their place and blow the shofar for them.

    At the end of the ten days the period ends with a repentance culminating on Yom Kippur with a 24 hour fast which ends at sunset with a final note on the shofar, signifying the closing of the Book of Life.

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