Rosh Hashanah is a solemn celebration of the beginning of the Jewish year. The new year begins at sunset before the first day of Tishri in the Hebrew calendar and lasts for two days. However, Reform Jews usually celebrate Rosh Hashanah for one day.
Rosh Hashanah is a time of introspection when Jews examine their relationship with God. During this period, prayers are said for God's forgiveness, a good year, and a long life. The Ten Days of Penitence begin on Rosh Hashanah (the Day of Judgment) and end on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). During these days, God decides who will die and who will live in the coming year.
Synagogue services are held on Rosh Hashanah. During the services, the shofar, a ram's horn that has been hollowed and straightened, is sounded after each of three groups of prayer. The first group of prayers is a reminder that God rules the world; the second group reminds people that God listens and responds to the sound of the shofar; the third group tells people that God remembers the deeds of people. The use of the shofar comes from the time that Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son, Isaac, but was stopped by God and instead sacrificed a ram.
On the first night of Rosh Hashanah, special dishes are prepared. Many of the dishes contain honey which symbolizes the desire for a sweet year. A special bread and many fruits are also included in the meal.