Rosh Hashanah is unique to the Jewish people, who consider it the birthday of humankind. It marks the beginning of 10 days known as the Days of Awe that lead up to the holiest day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur. Even if you're not Jewish, knowing how to greet your Jewish friends and loved ones with an appropriate Rosh Hashanah greeting is always appreciated.
Rosh Hashanah, meaning "head" of the year, celebrates renewal and is the Jewish new year. Observant Jews consider Rosh Hashanah a time for prayer, good deeds, reflecting on past mistakes, and making amends. It's celebrated on the first and second days of the Jewish month of Tishri, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar, a lunisolar calendar used for Jewish religious observance. On the Gregorian calendar, Rosh Hashanah falls sometime during September and October.
Rosh Hashanah Greetings
Just like secular new year greetings, Rosh Hashanah greetings are often used in the days preceding and following Rosh Hashanah. So, whether you're greeting a Jewish person face-to-face, on the phone, online, or just signing a letter, card, or email, using a special greeting that acknowledges the importance of the Rosh Hashanah, and expressing your good wishes is thoughtful and appreciated.
Rosh Hashanah Greetings in Hebrew
Traditional Jewish Rosh Hashanah greetings include:
L'shana Tovah U'metukah
L'shana tovah u'metukah (pronounced l'shah-NAH toe-VAH ooh-meh-too-KAH) means "for a good and sweet year." However, using a shortened version is common. Shana tovah (pronounced shah-NAH toe-VAH) means "good year." L'shana tova (luh-shah-NAH toe-VAH) means "To a Good Year."
Tizku l'shaneem Rabot
Another Rosh Hashanah greeting often used by Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews is tizku l'shaneem rabot (pronounced teez-KOO le-shah-NEEM rah-BOAT). This means "may you merit many years."
- If you're greeting a man, it's proper to say tizkeh v'tihyeh ve'orech yamim (pronounced teez-KEH v'tee-h'YEH v'OAR-ekh yah-MEEM.)
- When greeting a female, the appropriate version is tizkee vetihyee ve'orekh yamim (pronounced teez-KEE v'tee-h'YEE v'OAR-ekh yah-MEEM).
L'shana Tova Tikateivu
L'shana tova tikateivu (shah-NAH toe-VAH tee-kah-TAY-voo) literally means, "May you be written for a good year."
Other Rosh Hashana Greetings
Generic Jewish holiday greetings are also used on Rosh Hashanah. These include chag sameach (pronounced chahg sah-MAY-ach), which means "happy holiday" and gut yontiff (pronounced goot YUHN-tiff). Gut yontiff is Yiddish for "good holiday."
Rosh Hashanah Greetings in English
If you don't want to be embarrassed or offend your Jewish friends with incorrect pronunciations, it's appropriate to greet them in English with "Happy New Year." If you're not Jewish, it might seem awkward to use this greeting in the fall of a year. If so, "Happy Rosh Hashanah" is also appropriate.
Happy Shana Tova
Regardless of what you write or say to your Jewish friends during Rosh Hashanah, the main thing is to wish them all a good year - shana tovah. You can be sure they'll love that you remembered them on the first of the Jewish High Holy Days.