5 Ways the High Holidays of 2023 Are Unique

Tuesday, 12 September, 2023 - 10:45 am

1. There Is a Full Week of Selichot

The High Holiday Season begins with Selichot, early morning prayers asking G‑d for forgiveness. Ashkenazim begin this daily ritual on a Saturday night (after midnight) before Rosh Hashanah. Since Rosh Hashanah starts on Friday afternoon, we have a full week of Selichot this year.

Read: Why Do Selichot Follow Such an Odd Schedule?

2. The First Day of Rosh Hashanah Is Shabbat

Since day one of Rosh Hashanah is Shabbat, there are a number of things that differ from an ordinary year:

  • While cooking and baking are normally allowed (with certain restrictions) on Rosh Hashanah, it is not allowed when Rosh Hashanah coincides with Shabbat. If you wish to cook or bake on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, be sure to leave a flame burning all through Shabbat (which you need anyway so you can light candles on the second night of the holiday, and you can use that flame to cook with once night has fallen on Saturday night and you’ve said “baruch hamavdil bein kodesh lekodesh,” “Blessed is He Who separates between the sacred [Shabbat] and the sacred [holiday].”
  • Since we do not blow shofar on Shabbat (read why here), shofar is only blown on the second day. There are also certain other differences in the prayer service, all of which are noted in the machzor (prayerbook).
  • For the same reason, we also delay Tashlich—when we visit a body of water and ask G‑d to cast away our sins—to the second day of Rosh Hashanah (or later).

3. You Need Not Take Off Work to Attend Rosh Hashanah Services

Since Rosh Hashanah is on a weekend, students and most people who work a regular work week will not need to take off any time from work or school to fully participate in this holiday.

Read: Rosh Hashanah 2023 FAQ

4. We Usher in a Jewish Leap Year

Since a year comprising 12 lunar months is approximately 11 days shorter than the solar cycle, we occasionally tack on a 13th month to the Jewish calendar to keep things synced. Technically known as a shanah meuberet (“pregnant year”), this is often referred to as a Jewish leap year. And this coming year, 5784, is one such year!

Read: 13 Facts About Jewish Leap Years

5. Yom Kippur Is Sunday Night/Monday

  • This year, Rosh Hashanah, the first days of Sukkot, and Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah all coincide with the weekend, making for very neat planning.
  • The one exception is Yom Kippur, which starts on Sunday evening and ends on Monday night. So plan accordingly (perhaps even shopping for your pre-Yom Kippur fast the week before).


  • One upshot of this arrangement is that you then have four uninterrupted days to build your sukkah, purchase supplies, and do everything you need to get ready for Sukkot!

Read: Yom Kippur 2023 FAQ

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