Tag Archives: rosh hashanah

Jewish Tradition for Rosh Hashanah

Text: Every Rosh Hashanah, the informant throws a piece of bread into a body of water, which Symbolizes getting rid of their sins. When the informant does this ritual, which he has always performed with his immediate family, you talk about what you did wrong last year and what you’re going to try and do better next year. Rosh Hashanah is the new year and when Jews are supposed to be cleansed. He said it is their way of communicating our sins and regret for them to god. This usually falls in late fall or winter. 

Context: He’s been doing it ever since he can remember, he doesn’t feel that it does anything of significance in terms of good standing with God but He likes to be with his family at this time and feels that it helps him grow and be a better person

Analysis: The practice of casting bread into water as a symbol of casting away sins embodies a communal approach to repentance. While the informant expresses skepticism about the ritual’s direct impact on divine judgment, their continued participation highlights a personal and cultural commitment to the values of family unity and personal growth. The secular shift towards these traditions could be a reflection of the more secular shift which happened to many jews after the holocaust. This suggests that, within this cultural framework, traditions serve not only religious purposes but also support social cohesion and individual self-improvement.

Apples & Honey on Rosh Hashanah

Main Piece:

Informant: You have supposed to dip a slice of apple in some honey and eat it. It’s supposed to guarantee that you have a sweet year.

Interviewer: Do you remember when you learned about this?

Informant: It’s always been in my life. It’s not specific to our family, It’s a Jewish thing. Remember we’re Jewish? You know, it’s your grandmother’s thing though. She always made me and D— (The informant’s sister) eat the apple.

Interviewer: When is this performed?

Informant: Every Rosh Hashanah, before the meal starts.


The informant is my father, and he is describing a traditional Jewish ritual associated with Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah is a holiday symbolizing the start of the Jewish New Year. The informant learned this tradition through their mother. At our family Rosh Hashanah dinners, dipping the apple in the honey is a formality. However, it wasn’t until I went to my first traditional Rosh Hashanah dinner that I realized this was a common Jewish practice. This conversation was transcribed from a recording of a phone call. He learned this tradition as a kid growing up in Los Angeles.


I think it’s interesting that this religious custom was passed down through familial relationships. Even more so, I didn’t associate this tradition with being distinctly Jewish until I was told so. For me, this was a tradition exclusive to my own family. For my Dad, this tradition tied him to Judaism. My father is not overly religious, so claiming a piece of religious folklore from someone like him. Even though he doesn’t place much value in religious symbols, he has never failed to perform this tradition on Rosh Hashanah. Possibly, it is the value he places in his mother that had shifted this Jewish tradition into a familial superstition.