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What is Rosh Hashanah?

Rosh Hashanah, or Jewish New Year, is at once solemn and joyful. It is joyful because it represents the hope of the future redemption of Israel. Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the High Holy Days. It falls on the first day of the seventh month, according to the Hebrew calendar It ushers in the ten days of repentance leading up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

The name "Rosh Hashanah" literally means "Beginning of the Year." You may wonder how this can be, since it is called the first day of the seventh month! The reason is that the Jewish calendar is built on two cycles — the religious calendar beginning in the Spring, and the civil calendar beginning in the Fall. In the Torah, the months are never named but only numbered, beginning with the month of Nisan in the early Spring, which is the first month according to the religious calendar.

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