The two day marking of one of the Hebrew calendar’s holiest holidays, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins on Sunday evening. The holiday is marked in numerous ways from feasts to candle lighting and casting off the sins of the previous year into the sea. But there are also plenty of prayers associated with Rosh Hashanah, all contained in a prayer book for the high holidays – also including Yom Kippur – called the Machzor.
Candles should be lit no later than 18 minutes before sundown on the first night of Rosh Hashanah, while on the second night they should be lit right after nightfall. These words are recited while lighting: “Blessed are you, Lord, our God, king of the universe who has sanctified us with his commandments and commanded us to light the candles of the holiday.”
This is the blessing given while holding a cup of wine before the evening meal: “Praised are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe who has chosen and distinguished us by sanctifying our lives with commandments. Lovingly have you given us this Day of Remembrance, a day for recalling the shofar sound, a day for holy assembly and for recalling the Exodus from Egypt. Thus have you chosen us, sanctifying us among all people. Your faithful word endures forever. Praise are You, Lord, Ruler of all the earth, who sanctifies, the people Israel and the Day of Remembrance.”
After saying the Kiddush, the Shehecheyanu is then recited for the special occasion of Rosh Hashanah. It states: “Praised are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has sanctified us with commandments and has commanded us to wash our hands.”
Just like on the Shabbat, this blessing is made over challah, although for Rosh Hashanah the bread should be round and dipped in honey to ensure that the coming year is a sweet one: “Praised are you, Lord our God, ruler of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.”
Blessing over fruit
As with the challah, Rosh Hashanah is also marked by dipping apples in fruit. Before eating, the following is recited: “Blessed art thou, Lord our God, king of the universe, creator of the fruit of the trees. May it be your will, Lord our God and God of our fathers, that you renew for us a good and sweet year in our Lord Yeshua the Messiah.”
During Rosh Hashanah, a shofar – a hollowed out ram’s horn – is traditionally blown up to 100 times. Following the sounding of the horn, the following blessing is read: “Blessed are You, Lord our God, king of the universe, who sanctifies us with his commandments and commanded us to hear the sound of the shofar.”
Tashlich is the ritual of going to a body of water and tossing in bread crumbs as ceremonial casting away the sins of the previous year: “Who is like you, God, who removes iniquity and forgives transgression of the remainder of his heritage. He doesn't remain angry forever because he desires kindness. He will return and he will be merciful to us, and he will conquer our iniquities, and he will cast them into the depths of the sea. Give faithfulness to Jacob, kindness to Abraham like that you swore to our ancestors from long ago. From the straits I called upon God and with abounding relief God answered me. God is with me, I will not be afraid, what can man do to me? God is with me to help me, and I will see my foes [annihilated]. It is better to take refuge in God than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in God, that to rely on nobles."