Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New Year. Unlike other grand celebratory New Years around the world, Rosh Hashanah is a more introspective and serious holiday, marking a time of reflection and judgement. Here’s a brief excerpt from Wikipedia that sums up the holiday and after this, I’ll explain ways for your business to benefit from the Rosh Hashanah season:
What Is Rosh Hashanah?
Excerpted from Wikipedia
Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. It is the first of the High Holidays, celebrated ten days before Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah is observed on the first two days of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar. It is described in the Torah as a day of “Zikhron Trua” (“remembrance of the blowing of the horn”).
Rosh Hashanah marks the start of a new year in the Hebrew calendar (one of four “new year” observances that define various legal “years” for different purposes). It is the new year for people, animals, and legal contracts. The Mishnah also sets this day aside as the new year for calculating calendar years and sabbatical and jubilee(yovel) years. Jews believe Rosh Hashanah represents either figuratively or literally the creation of the World, or Universe.
In the Talmud it states that three books of account are opened on Rosh Hashanah, wherein the fate of the wicked, the righteous, and those of an intermediate class are recorded. The names of the righteous are immediately inscribed in the book of life, and they are sealed “to live.” The middle class are allowed a respite of ten days, until Yom Kippur, to repent and become righteous; the wicked are “blotted out of the book of the living forever.”
How To Benefit from Rosh Hashanah
Now that we’ve summed up the general overview of the holiday (somber or not!), let’s get to exactly what this holiday means for you and your business:
The Beginning of the High Holidays
Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the year but also the beginning of the High Holidays, a trifecta of holidays that starts with a 2 day Rosh Hashanah, a full day of Yom Kippur, and a 9 day holiday of Sukkot (in Israel, Sukkot is 8 days). More will be explained on those holidays in later posts but the point is quite vivid: this isn’t just one holiday, there are 3 holidays to keep in mind.
Don’t just promote food sales or requests for donations for Rosh Hashanah – promote food sales and donations for the HIGH HOLIDAYS. Rosh Hashana is the start of a holiday season that lasts for nearly an entire month so take that into account when planning a marketing, advertising, or PR campaign.
The High Holidays can also help provide an extra sales boost during a slower sales period. Back to School and Labor Day sales are over, football season isn’t in full swing yet, and Halloween and Christmas/New Years are still months away. The High Holidays are a perfect way to boost your 3rd quarter’s sales.
High Holidays means High Awareness.
The Jewish market is simply paying attention to everything more now. Increased readership of newspapers, increased traffic at Synagogues, and increased travel for the High Holiday mean that the Jewish market is paying attention to advertising and marketing. They need food, they need to travel, they are looking for clothing, they have High Holiday seats to book, etc. The Jewish market has their awareness levels on “high alert” because this is such an important month of holidays that are important to them and lucrative to businesses looking to attract them.
Jewish Holidays = Food, Wine, and Family.
Rosh Hashana is a great family oriented holiday and that means large festive meals. In fact, there are many Rosh Hashanah customs surrounding certain foods, such as carrots, honey, fish heads (yes, I typed that correctly), and apples, which means elaborate food shopping is a must for the Rosh Hashana family. Catering Rosh Hashanah meals are also a useful option for families hosting a large amount of people, so if your supermarket has catering options, I’d suggest preparing a Rosh Hashana menu with traditional Jewish and Rosh Hashanah foods.
Passover is a bigger wine holiday, but don’t think Rosh Hashanah isn’t pretty lucrative. Wine is a big component of every Jewish holiday and the weekly Sabbath. Kosher wine is also a great gift for your Jewish clients and vendors.
Who celebrates Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur? EVERYONE. Who celebrates Sukkot? Most people.
Know that difference. Everyone is in synagogue for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, even Larry David! Not everyone is celebrating Sukkot, which is why businesses, synagogues, and individuals place such a strong focus on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a total of three days, over Sukkot, a nine day holiday.
The reason is primarily due to the fact that Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are considered the two “Don’t Mess” holidays. Passover is 8 days, Sukkot is 9, Hanukkah is 8 as well – these are long holidays and some people can’t keep every holiday to the end. But you don’t mess with Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – they’re brief yet highly important holidays. Like I said, even Larry David goes to Synagogue on Rosh Hashanah.
Downplay the “Party Time” and emphasize the “Wishing Well”
Most people think that New Year’s is synonymous with joy, jubilance, partying, and celebration. I’m not saying there aren’t aspects of those in Rosh Hashana but its not the focus of Rosh Hashanah. Most Rosh Hashanah messages focus on an introspective, respectful holiday full of rich traditions and the marketing contains messages wishing health, happiness, and sweet outcomes for the new year.
Politicians and non-profits thrive with these “wishing well” messages and are a great example of how to treat the holiday. The Jewish community isn’t out partying and drinking on this holiday (that’s for Hanukkah and Purim!). A great way of wishing your Jewish employee’s or clients a joyful Rosh Hashanah is through a donation to a Jewish charity they are involved in or simply with a Rosh Hashanah card; bottles of Vodka or a box of chocolates aren’t exactly a Rosh Hashanah type of gift to send Jewish clients for this holiday of reflection.
I hope this helps de-mystify the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah and helps you target the Jewish market in the most respectful way (and in a successful way) for this reflective holiday. Have a happy and healthy New Year!