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L’Shanah Tovah – For a Good Year

For Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the High Holy Days in Judaism, sometimes Jews say “Happy New Year”, like we all do on December 31. Sometimes we say “Good Yontiff,” which is Yiddish for “Good Yom Tov,” which basically means “Good Holiday.” But most often, we say “L’Shanah Tovah,” which means “For a Good Year” and is short for “May You Be Inscribed in the Book of Life for a Good Year.”

According to a key prayer on the High Holy Days, we are told that on Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish new year), it is written, and on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) it is sealed — who shall live and who shall die, who shall be healthy and who shall be sick, who shall have peace and who shall be harried, who shall die by fire and who by water, etc. etc.

Pretty scary stuff, which keeps Jews coming to synagogues on those days even if they don’t come any other time of the year. So when we say “L’Shanah Tovah”, we are wishing someone to be given a good decree by God for the coming year. It is much more significant than the “Happy New Year” we say on December 31, where we celebrate that we are still alive at midnight to see the coming of another calendar year. Read more »