Monday Marks Start of Rosh Hashana

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(NBC) Jews around the world Monday will celebrate the first day of Rosh Hashana, the two-day holiday marking the Jewish New Year and ushering in a 10-day period of repentance and contemplation leading to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

Services marking the arrival of the year 5779 on the Hebrew calendar were held Sunday night -- the day starts at sundown on the Jewish Calendar -- and featured the blowing of the shofar, a ram's horn mentioned in the Torah and used by ancient Jews in religious ceremonies and as a call to arms and now used at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Rosh Hashana is a time when Jews gather with family members and their communities to reflect on the past year and the one beginning. Celebrants also eat festive meals featuring apples dipped in honey, symbolic of the wishes for a sweet year.

Rosh Hashana begins a period of contemplation and repentance culminating in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, Judaism's most solemn and somber day.

During the High Holy Days, Jewish tradition holds that God records the fate of each person for the coming year in the Book of Life, which is sealed at the end of Yom Kippur.