Rosh Hashana Background
Erev Rosh Hashana: September 28, 2011
Rosh Hashana First Day: September 29, 2011
Rosh Hashana Second Day: September 30, 2011
Rosh Hashana occurs on the first and second days of Tishrei, commemorating the month in which God created the world. In Hebrew, Rosh Hashana means, literally, "head of the year" or "first of the year" and Rosh Hashanah is commonly known as the Jewish New Year. The Jewish New Year is a time to begin introspection, looking back at the mistakes of the past year and planning the changes to make in the new year. This holiday is known by several names, including "Yom Ha Teru’ah", the Day of the Shofar, and "Yom ha Zikaron", the Day of Remembrance. Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are together known as "Yamim Nora’im", the Days of Awe, or commonly in English, High Holy Days.
On these two days, and the entire month of Elul which precedes them, we are instructed to examine our deeds (and misdeeds) of the past year. The goal of these holy days is to reassess, ethically and religiously, one’s life. Therefore, we do teshuva, translated literally as "turning". This means turning inward in self-evaluation, turning to look at our deeds of the past year, turning to our friends and family to ask for forgiveness, and returning to God. During this time, it is said that God is deciding whom to inscribe in the book of life for the coming year, and our fate will be sealed on Yom Kippur.