Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur

Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur

2023 JCC Holiday Observances

Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year)
Friday, September 15 • All JCC facilities close at 4:00 PM
Saturday, September 16 • All JCC facilities closed
Sunday, September 17 • All JCC facilities closed
Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)
Sunday, September 24 • All JCC facilities close at 4:00 PM
Monday, September 25 • All JCC facilities closed

Rosh Hashanah

Literally translated as “head of the year,” the two days of Rosh Hashanah begin the Jewish New Year and serve as a time of prayer, self-reflection, and repentance. Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of a 10-day period known as the “Days of Awe,” which culminate with the holiday of Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah is both a time of rejoicing and of serious introspection.

Ways to observe the holiday:

  • Hear someone blow the shofar, a ram’s horn that makes a trumpet-like sound and serves as a wake-up call to begin the work of self-reflection and repentance.
  • Perform taschlich, a ceremony that involves throwing crumbs or pieces of bread (symbolizing an individual’s sins) into flowing water.
  • Eat apples, honey, and round challah bread. The challah is round to symbolize the eternal cycle of life. Dipping challah, or apples, into honey symbolizes hope for a sweet New Year.
  • Many take off work and school to attend religious services and/or spend time with their friends and families, even those who do not observe other Jewish laws or practices.
  • It is traditional to greet others with “Shanah Tovah!” which means Happy New Year.

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) is the most solemn day on the Jewish calendar. Its central theme is communal repentance for sins committed during the past year, so that both the community and the individual can be inscribed in the “Book of Life” for the coming year.

Ways to observe the holiday:

  • Many attend religious services for a large portion of the holiday, even those who do not observe other Jewish laws or practices. A major component of the services is the repeated communal confession of sins. The day closes with a unique and emotionally powerful service during which the liturgy imagines the gates of heaven closing at the end of the High Holiday period. The holiday ends with a single, long blast of the shofar.
  • Yom Kippur is typically observed by a one-day fast from sundown to sundown. At the conclusion of the holiday, family and friends often gather for a “break fast” meal traditionally consisting of dairy items, such as blintzes, kugel, or bagels with lox and cream cheese.
  • As a somber holiday, it is not appropriate to wish someone a “happy” Yom Kippur. A traditional greeting is “May you be inscribed in the Book of Life,” and/or wishing someone an “easy fast.”

Want to learn more about the holidays or how your family can connect with the JCC?

Explore PJ Library Milwaukee for young families raising Jewish or multi-faith children.
Contact Rachel Pressman at to get connected to additional resources.