Make Your Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur More Meaningful

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Make Your Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur More Meaningful



Rosh HaShanah begins on Sunday, September 13th at 6:50pm and ends on Tuesday, September 15th.



On Sunday evening, the first night of Rosh Hashanah, recite the following blessings:

I.  Boruch Atoh Ado-nai, Elo-hei-nu Melech HaOlom, Asher Kidishonu B’Mitzvosov,                     Vitzivanu, L’hadlik Ner Shel Yom Tov.

     Blessed are You, L-rd Our G-d, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with Your        commandments and commanded us to kindle the holiday lights.

II. Boruch Atoh Ado-nai Elo-hei-nu Melech HaOlam, Shehechyanu,Vekimonu, Vehegeonu, Lazman Hazeh.

     Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who has kept us alive                and preserved us, and enabled us to reach this season.

On Monday night, the second night of Rosh HaShana, recite the following:
Candles are lit after nightfall. It is a tradition to partake of a new fruit, and if possible, wear a new garment.

III. Boruch Atoh Ado-nai Elo-hei-nu Melech Ha’Olam Asher Kidishonu B’mitzvosov,                      Vitzivanu, L’hadlik Ner Shel Yom Tov.    

      Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with         Your commandments and commanded us to kindle the Holiday lights.

IV. Boruch Atoh Ado-nai Elo-hei-nu Melech Ha’Olom, Shehecheyonu,                                           Vekimonu, Vehegeonu, Lazman Hazeh.

     Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, who has kept us alive                and preserved us and enabled us to reach this season.

On Monday night (2nd night of Rosh HaShana) repeat the same blessings.
Candle lighting on Monday night can not be performed before 8:00pm.

On Rosh HaShana the Book of Life is opened in the Heavens above. The deeds of each and every individual are examined and decisions are made, “Who shall live...who shall die. Who shall be elevated, who shall fall. Who shall be enriched, who shall be impoverished,” etc.

But man can insure that blessing be granted him through the fulfillment of three fundamental principles: Repentance, Prayer, and Charity.

Every Jew is obligated to listen to the blowing of the shofar. It is not permitted to have any conversation from the beginning of the shofar blasts to the end. Our Rabbis list ten reasons for the blowing of the shofar:

1.       Rosh HaShana marks the anniversary of the world’s creation.
2.       Rosh HaShana initiates the ten days of repentance.
3.       The blowing of the shofar reminds us of the giving of the Torah at Sinai.
4.       The shofar calls us to repentance.
5.       The shofar reminds us to pray for the rebuilding of the Holy Temple.
6.       The shofar reminds us of the binding of Isaac.
7.       The shofar awakens our Jewish soul.
8.       The shofar reminds us of the awesome Day of Judgment.
9.       The shofar reminds us of the ingathering of the exiles.
10.     The shofar reminds us of the resurrection of the dead.


On the First day of Rosh Hashanah, Monday, September 14th, at 6:00pm following the afternoon prayer, we visit a body of water or pond containing live fish and recite the Tashlich prayers in which we “cast away” our sins. As fish depend upon water, so do we depend upon G-d’s providence. Also, a fish’s eyes never close, symbolizing G-d’s unceasing watchfulness over us.

Special Rosh Hashanah Foods
It is customary on Rosh Hashanah to eat foods symbolizing sweetness, blessings, and abundance, and to avoid bitter foods and harsh spices. We dip the Challah in honey. On the first night, Sunday, September 13th, we eat a piece of apple dipped in honey. After the appropriate blessing on the apple, we add “May it be Your will to renew for us a good and sweet year.” Other customs include eating the head of a fish, pomegranates, and carrots.

The 10 days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are the most auspicious days for connecting with our spiritual selves, with coming closer to G-d. During this period, G-d, so to speak, holds open house, waiting for His children to come home. It is written in the Book of Isaiah (55.6): “Seek G-d while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near; Let the wicked forsake his way, and the man of iniquity his thoughts; and let him return unto G-d and He will have compassion on him and will pardon him abundantly...”

Our sages in the Talmud teach us that this passage is a direct reference to the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Proper greeting at this season: “K’tiva V’Chatima Tova” - “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”

Yom Kippur begins on Tuesday evening, September 22nd and ends on Wednesday evening, September 23rd.
On Tuesday evening, recite the following blessing:

 I.   Boruch Atoh Ado-nai Elo-hei-nu Melech Ho’Olom, Asher Kidishonu                                          B’mitzvosov, Vitzivanu, L’hadlik Ner Shel Yom HaKippurim.     

      Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us                         with Your commandments and commanded us to kindle the lights of Yom Kippur.

 II. Boruch Atoh Ado-nai Elo-hei-nu Melech Ha’Olom Shecheyonu,                                               Vekimonu,Vehegeonu, Lazman Hazeh.             

      Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, who has kept us alive and                 preserved us and enabled us to reach this season.

*** In addition to the Festival lights, it is customary to kindle a Yahrtzeit light in memory of deceased parents. Be sure to do so before kindling the Festival lights.


Reconciliation: The observance of Yom Kippur with repentance and confession brings atonement only from sins against G-d. For sins that involve one’s fellow man, forgiveness must be asked directly from the injured party. If forgiveness is not forthcoming, one must make two more attempts. The injured party should not act callously and withhold forgiveness. For those who are no longer with us, reconciliation must be made at grave side.
Parental Blessings: In this High Holy Day season it is customary for parents to bless their children. Both hands should be laid upon the head of the child to signify that the blessing is conveyed with generosity of spirit. Each parent may add personal blessings to the customary text as he sees fit.
For a boy: “May G-d make you like Ephraim and Menashe.”
For a girl: “May G-d make you like Sarah Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.”
For both continue with: “May G-d bless you and keep you. May G-d illuminate His countenance unto you and establish peace.”
*** It is also proper to visit the graves of parents and grandparents before Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. (See Hineni Graveside Prayer Card)
Kaporos: Atonement - made with gifts of money (tzedakah) or live chickens. The following is an excerpt from the prayer recited during this ceremony:
“...They cry out to the L-rd in their trouble and He delivers them from their distress. He sends His words and heals them...Let them thank the L-rd for His kindness and for the wonderful things He does for men. If one angel among a thousand pleads for a man, vouching for his uprightness, then G-d is gracious to him and says: ‘Deliver him from going down to the grave. I have found ransom.”
At this point in the ceremony, wave the ransom over your head three times and recite: “This is the offering exchanged for us. This is our ransom; this is our atonement...”
During this entire season, charity should be given generously, but on Erev Yom Kippur, even more so, since the merit of charity is a shield against evil decrees.

Even as it is a mitzvah to fast on Yom Kippur, so it is a mitzva to eat and drink Erev Yom Kippur, for thus we are physically fortified for prayer and supplication on the Holy Day. It is customary to eat two festive meals Erev Yom Kippur - one at midday, and the other, the concluding meal, called Seudah Hamafseket, prior to commencing the fast. At this meal, challah is dipped in honey, even as on Rosh Hashanah. Strong wine, hot spicy foods and salted fish should be avoided.

After the conclusion of the meal, grace is recited.
For those who have lost dear ones, this is the time when the Yahrtzeit candles should be kindled while mentioning their Hebrew names.

There are five prohibitions on Yom Kippur:
          1) Eating
          2) Drinking
          3) Bathing or anointing the body
          4) Wearing shoes of leather
          5) Sexual intimacy
It is a tradition to wear white on Yom Kippur (white skull caps for the men), for white represents purity and symbolizes the prophetic promise: “Though your sins be red as scarlet, I shall make them white as snow.” (Isaiah, 1:18)
The conclusion of Yom Kippur is marked by a single long blast of the shofar which reminds us of the revelation at Sinai and the coming of Messiah.


          1)       Kol Nidre
          2)       Songs of the Angels (Baruch Shem)
          3)       Torah and Haftorah Reading
          4)       Avodah (The Holy Temple Service in Jerusalem)
          5)       Priestly Blessings
          6)       Vidui (Confession)
          7)       Avinu Malkenu (Our Father, Our King)
          8)       Yizkor (Rememberance of Departed Souls
          9)       Neilah (Closing the Gates)
        10)       The L-rd, He is G-d (Seven Times)