Rosh Hashanah (literally, “Head of the Year”) refers to the celebration of the Jewish New Year. The holiday is observed on the first day of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, which usually falls in September or October, and marks the beginning of a ten-day period of prayer, self-examination and repentance, which culminate on the fast day of Yom Kippur. These ten days are referred to as Yamim Noraim, the Days of Awe or the High Holy Days.
While there are elements of joy and celebration, Rosh Hashanah is a deeply religious occasion. The customs and symbols of Rosh Hashanah reflect the holiday’s dual emphasis, happiness and humility. Special customs observed on Rosh Hashanah include; the sounding of the shofar, using round challah, eating apples and honey (and other sweet foods) for a sweet new year.
There is also a customary service observed before Rosh Hashanah. S’lichot, meaning forgiveness, refers to the penitential prayers recited by Jews prior to the onset of the High Holiday season. It is a solemn and fitting preparation for ten days of reflection and self-examination.