• Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) – Literally means "head of the year". A two-day festival, September 18-19, this marks the beginning of the Jewish year. It is highlighted by celebration, and soul-searching regarding actions during the previous year. It is a time to close out and complete the year ending and usher in the new year.
Customs include family holiday meals and giving gifts. Honey and sweet foods are eaten to symbolize a sweet year to come (a favorite is apple dipped in honey). Foods consisting of many small parts, such as pomegranates, are served to symbolize abundance. Round challah breads are baked to symbolize the yearly cycle that is ending.
The blessing is 'May this year and its troubles soon be over; may the new year and its blessings begin' – extremely relevant for this year
• Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) – A day of fasting and prayer on September 28, beginning sundown September 27. Its purpose is to stop all regular life activities and focus totally on repenting for transgressions during the previous year. According to tradition, the book of life is sealed at the end of The Day of Atonement and included in it - people's destiny for the year.
Many, though not all, Israelis observe the fast and attend Synagogue, while all public transportation and all traffic comes to a halt, including shutdown of airports and harbors. Radio stations and TV networks stop broadcasting. All shops, restaurants, and places of business are closed. Only emergency services are kept running.
• Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) – A harvest festival beginning October 2, lasting eight days. There are numerous customs centered around using a "sukka", a temporary structure with open slats under the sky, as a commemoration of the story of living in huts in the desert after the exodus from Egypt. Israelis enjoy family and friends socializing in the sukkot, which are typically gaily decorated. The week culminates with Simchat Torah, celebrating the completion and renewal of the yearly cycle of reading the Bible by singing and dancing in the synagogue. Vacation from work is given for the first and last days of this week.