Three major Jewish holidays fall this month.
A note about pronunciation: There is more than one way to pronounce most of these words, depending on whether one is using Yiddish or Hebrew, and depending on the traditions where one grew up. The following pronunciations are the editor’s choice.
Rosh Hashanah begins sundown, September 10
The name literally means the head of the year.” It is appropriate to send your Jewish friend a Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) greeting card right up to Yom Kippur. The Bible refers to this holiday as Yom Truah, the day of sounding the trumpets or the day of alarm.
Words to know for Rosh Hashanah (russia shuh-nah):
The shofar (show-far) is the ram’s horn “trumpet” that is sounded as part of the synagogue services on this holiday.
The Akeda (ah-kay-da) refers to the binding of Isaac by his father, Abraham (Genesis 22:1-18). This portion of Scripture is traditionally read on Rosh Hashanah.
L’shana tovah (la-shun-ah-toe-vah) is the traditional Rosh Hashanah greeting. It means “have a good year.”
Yom Kippur begins sundown, September 19
The name means “the Day of Atonement.” This is the most solemn of all the days on the Jewish calendar, so it is not appropriate to wish your friend a “happy Yom Kippur.” The two holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, are referred to collectively as the High Holy Days, or the High Holidays.
Words to know for Yom Kippur (yohm ki-poor):
The Days of Awe refer to the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It is to be a time of reflection leading up to the Day of Atonement.
Kol Nidre (kole-nid-ray) literally means “all vows.” It is the name of an ancient prayer that is traditionally chanted on Yom Kippur Eve. Thus the synagogue service that night is called the Kol Nidre service.
Sukkot begins sundown, September 24
Sukkot means “booths,” or “tabernacles,” and this week-long holiday is also known as the Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths). It is a joyous harvest festival.
Words to know for Sukkot (sue-coat):
Sukkah (sook-ah, with the “oo” pronounced as in “took”) is the singular of sukkot, so it means “tabernacle” or “booth.” It is a traditional lean-to built to remind us of God’s presence with us when we wandered in the desert for 40 years.
Lulav (loo-lahv) is a combination of branches from three different trees. It is waved as part of the Sukkot services.
Etrog (et-rog) is a citrus fruit which is held and waved along with the lulav.