Rosh Hashana – A Guide for Non-Celebrants

Celebrating Rosh Hashana – A non-celebrants guide to the Jewish High Holidays

Fall is upon is, and all of the familiar sights and sounds of the new season are readily visible: the return of professional and college football, farmer’s markets with seasonal bounties, back to school for students of all ages, and the beginning of the Jewish High Holidays. Today we focus on the latter item and how to celebrate with this community as a non-celebrant.

The Jewish Community in Columbus

Columbus’ Jewish community dates to 1840, and has been a small, but influential community with a growing presence since that time. Today, about 25,500 Jews live in the Columbus area, making it the third largest Jewish community in Ohio, and 43rd largest Jewish community in the USA.

In the last decade, the Jewish population in the Columbus area has grown 14%, with 22% of this population between
18 – 34. While the traditionally Jewish neighborhoods of Bexley, Berwick, and Eastmor have fairly stable populations, tremendous growth in this demographic can be found in other neighborhoods like Clintonville and German Village.

What is Rosh Hashana?

Translated from Hebrew, “Rosh” means “head” and “Shana” means “year”. The “Ha” part means “of the” = “The Head of the Year”. This is the celebration of the Jewish New Year. It follows a lunar calendar set generally to match the start of the fall harvest. It is the second most important holiday in the Jewish faith and is paired with the most important holiday that follows about 10 days later – Yom Kippur. Together, they are referred to as the “High Holidays”. For the most religious of the Jewish sects, Rosh Hashana is a two day celebration. While Yom Kippur is a solemn holiday of atonement, Rosh Hashana is a day of joyful celebration!

Celebrating Rosh Hashana

Members of the Jewish faith will celebrate Rosh Hashana by attending services in a synagogue with family. The service is marked by the blowing of the “Shofar” an instrument made from a ram’s horn. A family meal often follows.

For non-celebrants, offering a “Happy New Year” is an appropriate greeting at this time. For those a little more adventurous, the traditional Hebrew greeting is L’Shana Tovah (Lih SHANAH Toh VA), which means the same thing. Another phrase used, especially when offering a traditional gift, is “A sweet and good year” or “Shanah tovah umetukah” (shaNah toVa uMETukah).

Traditional Gifting during Rosh Hashana

Traditionally, apples and honey are given to mark the holiday to reinforce “a sweet and good year”. A Sugarbush gift basket specifically created for this holiday is a new addition to the Sugarbush Gourmet Gift Basket lineup. Apples and honey are representative of several traditions of the faith that are more than appropriate for a non-celebrant to offer as a gift.

The use of apples and honey traces its history back to the Old Testament. Apples became a symbol of faith and one’s personal relationship with God. Additionally, the Bible alludes to Israel as “the land of milk and honey”. While the honey used today is not the same as the biblical description, it is a reminder of the historical connection the people of Israel have to the land.

Sugarbush and Rosh Hashana

Celebrants and non-celebrants can join in and celebrate this holiday with their Jewish friends. Sugarbush Gourmet Gift Baskets offers a wide selection of appropriate gift baskets for this time of year, including our latest gift basket especially designed to celebrate this holiday.

To our Jewish friends in the community and across the United States, L’Shana Tova!