By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
A blast of the ram’s horn on the night of Sunday, Sept. 9, will summon Jews across Mexico to synagogues and local congregations to celebrate the beginning of the holiest period in the Jewish calendar.
Starting at sunset, members of the Jewish community throughout the world will begin the celebration of Rosh Hashanah, ushering in the start of the year 5779 in the Hebraic calendar, which purports to date back to the creation of the world.
The two-day Rosh Hashanah festivities, often called the Hebrew New Year, begin on the first day of the Jewish month of Tishri, which is considered as the most important day of judgment before God.
The next 10 days, generally referred to as the Jewish High Holidays, are a time for reflection and forgiveness, and culminate with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the most sacred Jewish holy day.
As part of the traditional Rosh Hashanah celebrations, sumptuous meals are served in synagogues and homes with apples dipped in honey.
Before the first bite of apples and honey, a prayer asking for a sweet year is recited in Hebrew.
Holiday dinners typically include wine and challah, a rich egg bread stuffed with raisins and shaped into golden spirals to symbolize the continuity of life.
Food is an essential part of the Rosh Hashanah holiday because each holiday has its particular kind of food and its particular atmosphere in which the food is eaten.
Rosh Hashanah is also characterized by the blowing of the shofar, a trumpet made from a ram’s horn, intended to awaken the listener and alert them to the coming judgment.
During the afternoon of the first day of Rosh Hashanah, the practice of tashlikh is observed, in which prayers are recited near natural flowing water, and one’s sins are symbolically cast into the water.
Some Jews also have the custom of throwing bread or pebbles into the water to symbolize the “casting off” of their sins.
Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, usually spent in prayer and fasting, starts eight days after Rosh Hashanah ends.
This solemn fast day concludes with the blowing of the shofar, followed by a celebratory break-the-fast in the synagogue or at home with family and friends.