The Importance of the Jewish New Year

When visiting your patients that celebrate Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year, you may not come across an overly festive environment. That’s because it is one of Judaism’s holiest days. This two-day observance begins on September 15 and is an occasion to reflect and repent in anticipation of the coming year. Rosh HaShanah is a time when Jewish people believe God judges all humanity and considers a person’s good and bad deeds over the last year, deciding what the next year will be like for them. It’s a time to celebrate the completion of another year while also taking stock of one’s life. 

 Rosh HaShanah kicks off the High Holy Days, also known as the Ten Days of Penitence. The High Holy Days end with Yom Kippur on October 12, which is considered the most sacred of Jewish religious holidays. Your patients may participate in a festive meal, called a seder, that is steeped in symbolism and tradition. The meal begins with the ceremonial lighting of two candles and features foods that represent positive wishes for the new year. If you’re at their house for the seder, you’ll see apples, honey, and challah bread on the menu. Try greeting your patients with “L’shana tovah,” which translates to “for a good year,” or “shanah tovah umtukah,” which means “may you have a good and sweet year.”