See How New Yorkers Celebrated Rosh Hashanah a Century Ago | Smart News | Smithsonian

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See How New Yorkers Celebrated Rosh Hashanah a Century Ago

Photographs from the early 1900s show Rosh Hashanah in New York

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“Jews praying on Jewish New Year.” Photo: Library of Congress

L’shanah tovah!

Yesterday at sundown marked the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, the two day celebration of the Jewish New Year. Huffington Post:

Though Rosh Hashanah literally means “head of the year,” the holiday actually takes place on the first two days of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, which is the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar. This is because Rosh Hashanah, one of four new years in the Jewish year, is considered the new year of people, animals and legal contracts. In the Jewish oral tradition, Rosh Hashanah marks the completion of the creation of the world.

Jewish people across the world will be celebrating with prayer and tradition, and honey and apples, much in the same way as they’ve been celebrating for ages. Going through the Library of Congress archives, Bowery Boogie found a trove of old photos depicting New Yorkers celebrating Rosh Hashanah around the turn of the century. There are more in the archive, too, if you want to poke around, but here we’ve pulled out some of our favorites:

“Selling New Year’s cards, East Side, New York City.” Photo: Library of Congress

People getting their shoes shined for the celebrations. Photo: Library of Congress

“Boy in prayer shawl.” Photo: Library of Congress

“Worshippers and converted synagogue.” Photo: Library of Congress

More from Smithsonian.com:

Why Honey Is Eaten for Rosh Hashanah, and Other Burning Questions

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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