The 2016 observance of Rosh Hashanah — the traditional Jewish New Year and the second-most important holiday on the Hebrew calendar — begins on the evening of Sunday, October 2. Because the ancient calendar does not correspond to the “Roman” calendar used internationally, Rosh Hashanah falls on a different day each year.
The “day” in Jewish tradition does not last simply from midnight to midnight, like a secular day, but instead begins in the evening, with the first appearance of stars in the sky. That means the time when Rosh Hashanah begins, with the ceremonial lighting of candles, differs depending on where you live.
Here’s How To Find the Rosh Hashanah Time In Your Area
The orthodox Jewish organization Chabad provides an easy online form for looking up exactly when Rosh Hashanah begins and ends in most locations around the world. Access the Chabad candle-lighting times lookup by clicking on this link.
The page will display the Rosh Hashanah start time in Tel Aviv. Click the word “change” immediately to the right of “Tel Aviv, Israel” and enter your own location to get the precise minute that Rosh Hashanah begins where you are.
For example, if you live in Boston, Massachusetts, Rosh Hashanah begins October 2 at 6:05 p.m. Eastern Time. Out west in Los Angeles, California, Rosh Hashanah formally begins at 6:17 p.m. Pacific on Sunday.
Another important fact to note for Jews, or anyone who plans to observe Rosh Hashanah, is that the Jewish New Year holiday lasts not just one day, as in secular tradition, but two. In Jewish tradition the New Year isn’t a party holiday, but a time for thoughtful reflection on the year gone by, and cultivating a spirit of renewal and hope for the year to come.
Contemplation takes time. You can’t rush it.
Jewish tradition adds about an hour to the end of holy days, however, so candle lighting-time on the second day of the holiday in Boston will be 7:03 p.m. on October 3. The holiday ends on Tuesday, October 4 at 7:01 p.m.
To give a few other examples, in Chicago, Illinois, the holiday begins at 6:10 p.m., but in Denver, Colorado, Jews should light their candles at 6:22 p.m.
In Jerusalem, Israel, the holiest city in Judaism, the 2016 Rosh Hashanah begins at 5:43 p.m. But in Israel’s secular, politically recognized capital city of Tel Aviv, holiday candle lighting occurs at 6:02 p.m.
Rosh Hashanah — which translates as “head of the year” — in 2016 marks the beginning of year 5777 on the Hebrew calendar, and as always, the start of the month of Tishrei, which is actually the seventh month of the calendar.
That seeming anomaly occurs because there are actually four New Years in Judaism. But the first days of Tishrei are the most important, because they mark the anniversary of the day God created Adam and Eve, the first human beings, according to the Torah, the Jewish holy book.