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Video:High Holiday Greetings

with Abby Feldman

Judaism's High Holidays often have appropriate greetings or ways to wish followers well. Learn to say few High Holiday greetings in Yiddish for Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur and the Ten days of Awe.See Transcript

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Transcript:High Holiday Greetings

Hi, I’m Abby for About.com. Have you ever wondered how to properly greet your Jewish friends and loved ones on the High Holy Days of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, as well as the Ten Days of Awe in between? If so, here are some of the basics:

Rosh HaShanah Greetings

Rosh HaShanah, which literally means “Head of the Year” in Hebrew, marks the start of the Jewish New Year and is celebrated over the course of two days, often falling in September or October on the secular calendar. When you see loved ones at this time, it is nice to say, "L'Shana Tova.” This means "for a good year" in Hebrew, and is a common, warm greeting for the first of the Holy Days.

Although Rosh HaShanah is not traditionally a holiday for gift-giving, it is considered polite to bring sweets if a friend invites you to their home. In such case, you may want to greet your hosts with, "L'Shana Tovah u'Metukah," or "for a good and sweet year."

To ensure this blessing, Jewish families traditionally eat apple slices that they dip together in honey on the first night of the holiday. In fact, Jewish markets may even carry embellished honey dishes, which you can buy to gift along with kosher chocolates, pastries, or fruits, such as apples and pomegranates.

Greetings for the Ten Days of Awe

Yom Kippur comes ten days after Rosh HaShanah. This time between the two holidays is referred to as the Ten Days of Awe. While God judges one’s behavior over the prior year on Rosh HaShanah, the Ten Days of Awe offer believers the chance to earn forgiveness for the past year’s indiscretions by means of reflective repentance and atonement. Throughout this time it remains customary to wish friends “Happy New Year,” or "L'Shana Tova.”

Yom Kippur Greetings

An important thing to remember regarding Yom Kippur is that it is a day of atonement through fasting, so practitioners may be quiet, tired, or solemn. Because of this, it is thoughtful to wish practitioners an “easy fast,” or "Tzom Kal,” in Hebrew.

Traditionally, however, Yom Kippur is met with the greeting, "G'mar Hatimah Tovah" or "May You Be Sealed for a Good Year (in the Book of Life)." This sentiment reflects the belief that God seals one’s fate for the coming year in either the Book of Life or Death on Yom Kippur, based on the severity of sins the believer committed in the past year and their commitment to repentance throughout the Ten Days of Awe.

General High Holiday Greetings

If ever in doubt of the appropriate High Holiday greeting, just wish your Jewish friends a simple “Happy Holiday,” "Chag Samayach" in Hebrew, or "Gut Yuntiff" in Yiddish. Your effort and sentiments will go a long way in showing you care.

I hope this helps you connect on a deeper level with your Jewish friends and loved ones, as well with yourself, because anytime we make an effort to better understand the beliefs and customs of others, we ourselves grow. To learn more, visit us at About.com. Thanks for watching.

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