Blowing the shofar at Congregation Beth Israel in La Jolla. Image courtesy Beth Israel
Blowing the shofar at Congregation Beth Israel in La Jolla. Image courtesy Beth Israel

The 5776th year in the Jewish calendar begins at sundown on Sunday with Rosh Hashanah services at San Diego-area congregations.

Rosh Hashanah means literally “head of the year” in Hebrew. It marks the beginning of a 10-day period of prayer, self-examination, and repentance ending with Yom Kippur, which is known as the Day of Atonement.

The year begins at sundown because the ancient Jewish calendar is based on phases of the moon.

Customs observed on Rosh Hashanah include sounding the shofar, a musical instrument made from a ram’s horn, and eating apples and honey for a sweet new year.

Many congregations celebrate one day of Rosh Hashanah, while others observe two days.

Tashlich, one practice associated with Rosh Hashanah, is a ceremony in which Jews symbolically cast away their sins by tossing pieces of bread into a flowing body of water.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.