Rosh Hashanah 2023: Reflecting on Tradition and Celebration

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Wishing You Health, Happiness, and Prosperity

Happy Rosh Hashanah 2023: Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is a time of profound significance and celebration in the Jewish calendar. It marks the beginning of the High Holidays, a 10-day period of self-reflection, renewal, and communal gatherings. This year, Rosh Hashanah began on the evening of September 15 and concludes on the evening of September 17, 2023.

During this time, Jewish communities around the world come together to commemorate this special occasion with prayer services, festive meals, and cherished traditions.

Banking on Rosh Hashanah 2023

One common question that arises during this holiday is whether banks are open. The good news is that Rosh Hashanah is not a federal holiday, which means that most banks typically maintain their regular business hours. However, there’s a slight twist this year as the holiday falls on a weekend. Some banks may close their doors on Saturdays or have limited hours, so it’s advisable to check with your local branch if you’re uncertain about their Saturday schedule. Sundays, as usual, remain off for all banks. If your bank happens to be closed, ATMs and online services are available for your banking needs.

In the grand scheme of holidays in the United States, Rosh Hashanah is not among the 11 recognized federal holidays. Those include New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and more, on which banks, post offices, the stock market, and other services typically observe closures.

Wishing a Happy Rosh Hashanah

Now, let’s delve into the beautiful tradition of extending warm wishes for a happy Rosh Hashanah. It’s a time for families and friends to come together and express their hopes for the year ahead. Whether you’re familiar with Jewish customs or not, conveying your best wishes during this important holiday is a meaningful gesture.

  • “Shana Tova Umetuka”: This traditional Hebrew greeting translates to “A good and sweet year.” It carries the hope for a year filled with happiness, health, and prosperity.
  • “L’Shanah Tovah”: This shorter version of the greeting also means “For a good year” and offers a simple and heartfelt way to convey your wishes.
  • “May You Be Inscribed and Sealed in the Book of Life” or “G’mar Chatimah Tovah”: Acknowledge the solemn aspect of Rosh Hashanah, where one’s fate for the upcoming year is believed to be written in the Book of Life. This phrase expresses the hope that they will be sealed in the Book of Life for a good year.
  • “Happy New Year” in English: If you prefer English, a simple “Happy New Year” is entirely appropriate and appreciated.
  • “Wishing You Health and Prosperity”: Extend your best wishes with a message like, “May this New Year bring you good health, happiness, and prosperity.”

In addition to verbal greetings, it’s customary to send Rosh Hashanah cards or gifts to friends and family. Traditional gifts include apples and honey, symbolizing a sweet year ahead. If you have friends or neighbors of the Jewish faith, it’s a thoughtful gesture to join in a Rosh Hashanah celebration or meal. It’s a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the festivities and share in the joy of the holiday.

Happy Rosh Hashanah 2023

Reflections on Family and Tradition

Rosh Hashanah is also a time for deep reflection on family dynamics and the intricate relationships between parents and children. Stories from the Torah, such as the challenges faced by figures like Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar, vividly illustrate the complexities of family relationships. These narratives offer profound insights into our own struggles and underscore the importance of communication and understanding within families.

As we sound the shofar, the ceremonial ram’s horn, we are reminded of the ram that replaced Isaac on the altar. Its intangible sound symbolizes memory and our shared history born out of pain and alienation. On Rosh Hashanah, we are all like children, facing the future, and drawing strength from the values passed down by our parents. We aspire to establish a meaningful connection with God and our rich Jewish tradition.

In a world marked by dysfunction and alienation, our families and traditions serve as sources of refuge and strength. As we celebrate Rosh Hashanah, may you and your loved ones have a sweet, healthy, and successful New Year.

Where to Celebrate Rosh Hashanah in Rochester?

As Rosh Hashanah ushers in the Jewish High Holy Days, it’s an occasion for both reflection and celebration within the Jewish community. In this section, we’ll explore what Rosh Hashanah signifies and provide details on where you can participate in observances in Rochester, NY.

What is Rosh Hashanah?

Rosh Hashanah, often referred to as the “head” of the year in Hebrew, is the Jewish New Year. It marks the beginning of the Jewish High Holy Days, which culminate with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. This special holiday is celebrated with unique prayers, traditional foods, communal gatherings, and more.

When is Rosh Hashanah Celebrated?

This year, Rosh Hashanah began at sunset on Friday and concludes at dusk on Sunday. What makes this holiday unique is that it’s observed for two days, both inside and outside Israel. This extended celebration is known as yoma arichta, meaning “a long day,” symbolizing the 48-hour period as a single, continuous day.

Why is Rosh Hashanah Celebrated?

Rosh Hashanah holds deep significance as a time for reflection on the past year and setting intentions for the coming year. According to Jordan Rosenblum, an expert in Classical Judaism, it’s akin to the New Year’s resolutions many of us make in January. It’s a time to take stock and consider how we can improve.

Additionally, Rosh Hashanah carries importance as a celebration of the creation of humanity. It’s sometimes referred to as the “birthday of the world,” signifying the moment when God created Adam and Eve or when the breath of life entered them. Jewish people often attend synagogue services during Rosh Hashanah, reciting special prayers and songs to welcome the new year.

Traditions and Observances

During Rosh Hashanah, some Jewish communities blow a Shofar, a curved ram’s horn. This ritual is intended to awaken individuals to the significance of the new year, encouraging self-reflection and preparation for atonement.

Another tradition, known as Tashlich, involves praying near a body of water and symbolically casting off sins by tossing pieces of bread or other food into the water.

Where to Observe Rosh Hashanah in Rochester, NY

For those in the Rochester area, there are several places where you can participate in Rosh Hashanah observances:

Friday, Sept. 15

  • Erev Rosh Hashanah service at 6 p.m. at Temple Beth El, 139 S. Winton Road, Rochester.
  • Rosh Hashanah Eve Service at 7 p.m. at Chabad Lubavitch of Rochester, 1037 S. Winton Road, Brighton, followed by a community dinner.
  • Erev Rosh Hashanah Service at 7 p.m. at Temple B’rith Kodesh, 2131 Elmwood Ave., Brighton.
  • Erev Rosh Hashanah Service from 8 to 10 p.m. at the JCC.
  • Temple Emanu-El’s Erev Rosh Hashanah Service from 8 to 9:30 p.m. in the JCC’s lounge area, near the café.

Saturday, Sept. 16

  • First-day services at 9:30 a.m. and 6:45 p.m. at Chabad Lubavitch of Rochester, 1037 S. Winton Road, Brighton.
  • Services beginning at 8:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. at Temple Beth El, 139 S. Winton Road, Rochester, with youth and family services and young adults’ gatherings.
  • Morning service at 10 a.m. at Temple B’rith Kodesh, 2131 Elmwood Ave., Brighton.
  • Traditional Service, Family Service, Young Family Service, and Teen Service, all for Rosh Hashanah, from 10 a.m. to noon in the JCC auditorium.
  • Temple Emanu-el’s morning service at 10 a.m. in the JCC’s lounge area, near the café.
  • Tashlich service at 12:30 p.m., meeting at the entrance to the Erie Canal near the JCC’s Wolk Children’s Center parking lot.
  • Rosh Hashanah in the Woods, a unique event featuring music, movement, and reflection while connecting to the earth-based origins of the Jewish tradition. This special event runs from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Dawn Lipson Canalside Stage (the tent) at the rear of the JCC property.

Sunday, Sept. 17

  • Second-day services at 9:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. at Chabad Lubavitch of Rochester, 1037 S. Winton Road, Brighton.
  • Morning service beginning at 8:30 a.m., youth and family services at 10 and 10:30 a.m., and young adults meeting at 11:30 a.m. at Temple Beth El, 139 S. Winton Road, Rochester, with Kiddush lunch following the morning service.
  • Second-day services at 10 a.m. at Temple B’rith Kodesh, 2131 Elmwood Ave., Brighton.
  • Second-day morning services starting at 10 a.m. in the JCC’s lounge area, near the café.
  • Second-day services from 10 a.m. to noon at Temple Sinai, 363 Penfield Road, Brighton.
  • Tashlich service for Temple Beth El at 5:30 p.m. at Lake Riley in Cobbs Hill Park in Rochester.

For nonmembers interested in attending services at Temple B’rish Kodesh and Temple Beth El, it’s advisable to preregister by contacting each temple before the scheduled events.

Is it OK to say ‘Happy Rosh Hashanah’?

Absolutely! “Happy Rosh Hashanah” or “happy new year” are both appropriate greetings when conversing with Jewish friends, family, co-workers, or classmates during the holiday. You can also use the Hebrew phrase “Shanah tovah,” which means “good year.”

Rosh Hashanah is a time of reflection, celebration, and connection with loved ones and the broader Jewish community. As you extend your warm wishes during this significant holiday, you contribute to the sense of togetherness and shared joy that characterizes Rosh Hashanah.


Q1: What is the significance of Rosh Hashanah?

A1: Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, signifying a time for reflection, renewal, and setting intentions for the year ahead.

Q2: Are banks open on Rosh Hashanah?

A2: Rosh Hashanah isn’t a federal holiday, so most banks remain open, but it varies. Check with your local branch for holiday hours.

Q3: How do I wish someone a happy Rosh Hashanah?

A3: You can say “Shana Tova Umetuka” for a sweet year, “L’Shanah Tovah” for a good year, or use English with “Happy New Year.”

Q4: What are some Rosh Hashanah traditions?

A4: Traditions include blowing the shofar, attending synagogue services, and performing Tashlich by a body of water to symbolize shedding sins.

Q5: Where can I celebrate Rosh Hashanah in Rochester, NY?

A5: Various places in Rochester host Rosh Hashanah observances, including Temple Beth El, Chabad Lubavitch, and the JCC.


In family relationships, love is really spelled ‘t-i-m-e,’ time.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Conclusion: Rosh Hashanah 2023

In conclusion, Rosh Hashanah 2023 is a time of celebration, reflection, and new beginnings for the Jewish community and beyond. As we embrace this significant holiday, let’s extend warm wishes to our loved ones, appreciate the rich traditions, and come together in unity. Whether it’s attending services, sharing greetings, or participating in festivities, let the spirit of Rosh Hashanah inspire us to cherish family bonds and seek a brighter, more prosperous year ahead.

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