Many DEI-centric initiatives focus on gender, sexuality, and race, but you shouldn’t forget about culture and religion. To many, their cultural and religious holidays are a big part of who they are, and organizations can show their respect and appreciation for their employees by celebrating these holidays with them. A great place to start is with the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah.
What Is Rosh Hashanah?
Rosh Hashanah means “Head of the Year,” and it’s the Jewish celebration of the new year. It lasts for two days and usually takes place in early autumn.
Unlike Christmas or Easter, Rosh Hashanah doesn’t have much of a commercial aspect to it—instead, it’s one of the most sacred holidays for the Jewish community. It’s a time of reflection, celebration, and planning for the upcoming year, and it starts the 10-day lead up to Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.
Because of the holiday’s sacred importance, celebrating it at work takes inclusive planning and respectful preparation. However, don’t let that intimidate you—it’s a great way to help any Jewish employees feel welcomed and respected at your workplace.
How to Celebrate Rosh Hashanah at Work?
There are ways to celebrate Rosh Hashanah at work without worrying about offending anyone or making light of a sacred day. Here are some ideas to ring in the Jewish New Year with respect.
Chances are, anyone at your company who isn’t Jewish doesn’t know much about Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, or any other Jewish holiday. Help spread awareness and understanding with resources that explain the meaning and purpose behind each holiday.
Share facts, invite a guest speaker, or offer a free lunch of traditional Rosh Hashanah fare. All of these will spread awareness and show your support. You may want to ask your Jewish employees if they’re comfortable helping with preparation or sharing their thoughts.
Teach the Correct Greeting
There are a few different traditional greetings for Rosh Hashanah that are easy to learn. And by wishing your Jewish employees a happy new year in their traditional tongue, you can show that you care enough about them and their culture to learn about it. Here are couple greetings to try:
- Shana Tovah (Shah - Nah - Toe - Vah) means “Good year”
- L’shana Tovah u’metukah (I’shah - Nah - Toe - Vah - Oo - Meh - Too - Kah) means “For a good and sweet year”
There are other ways to greet each other during Rosh Hashanah depending on the Jewish denomination, but these two are the most common and widely accepted.
For those of the Jewish faith, Rosh Hashanah is a time to celebrate, yes, but also a time to reflect and worship. For those reasons, your Jewish employees may want to take a day or two off around Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to fully focus on their religious observances. If possible, offer these days as extra PTO to show your support.
Provide Traditional Food
Greeting each other with “for a good and sweet year” is indicative of the traditional foods of Rosh Hashanah. Apples, honey, dates, pomegranates, and honey cake are all traditionally eaten at the celebration, so supplying some of these sweets to go along with wishing everyone a “sweet year” can be fun and informative for all.
Spread Inclusivity This Year
Every culture and religion has their own traditions and holidays, and by celebrating them at work, you can show that you support and value the diversity of your workforce. This year, consider celebrating Jewish holidays such as Rosh Hashanah.
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