Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish High Holiday celebrating the start of the year 5774 on the Jewish calendar, begins tonight at sundown.

The term Rosh Hashanah, "beginning of the year," is rabbinical, as are the themes of the festival: repentance, preparation for the day of Divine judgment and prayer for a fruitful year. The two-day festival, which falls on 1-2 Tishre in the Jewish calendar, will conclude at sundown on Friday. In many senses, Israel begins its year on Rosh Hashanah.

Major customs of Rosh Hashanah include the sounding of the shofar in the middle of a devotional service that focuses on the festival themes, and elaborate meals at home to inaugurate the new year. Traditional foods include apples, challah bread and honey. Those of the Jewish faith will often dip slices of apple or challah in honey as a wish for a sweet, new year.

Rosh Hashanah is one of four New Years on the Jewish calendar, a calendar that like most around the world, reflects the changing of the seasons.

The next Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and the holiest day of the year for Jews, will begin at sundown on Friday, Sept. 13, and is celebrated for one day, ending at sundown Saturday, Sept. 14.

Yom Kippur is a day for Jews to become reunited with God and their fellow men, and to make atonement for their sins.

To all our Jewish readers, the TIMES NEWS wishes "L'Shana Tova," which is "Happy New Year" in Hebrew.