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How To Greet People During Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

Return to the When is the Rosh Hashanah Holiday

Appropriate Greetings for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur

Throughout the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, it’s always appropriate to say “Happy New Year” to others in the Jewish community. Click on the links below to hear the Rosh Hashanah greetings spoken aloud.

Sometimes people will greet each other with different versions of “Happy New Year” in Hebrew. The most common Rosh Hashanah greeting that is heard (which means “May you have a good year”), is:

L’shana Tovah

There are also versions of this greeting that incorporate one of the metaphors of Rosh Hashanah known as “The Book of Life.” The tradition imagines that at this time of year, while we are doing our own personal moral self-evaluation, God is preparing to inscribe us in a heavenly Book of Life for a year of whatever quality we have merited through our actions.

Most Jews don’t take this idea literally, by the way, so don’t worry if you’re not sure how you feel about this religious metaphor. Anyway, you might hear people say the following Rosh Hashanah greetings:

L’shana Tovah Tee-kah-tay-voo

“May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year.”

L’shana Tovah Tee-kah-tay-voo v’tee-kha-tay-moo

“May you be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a good year.”

As the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur approaches, many Jews offer greetings expressing the hope that people will have an easy fast, or that they will be sealed in the Book of Life for a good year. You might hear:

Tzom Kal

“May you have an easy fast.”


Khah-tee-mah Tovah

“May you be sealed for good [in the Book of Life].”

It can be fun for people new to the Rosh Hashanah holiday to practice these greetings, which are also suitable to use for Yom Kippur! But rest assured that you can’t go wrong with “Happy New Year” in English, at any time throughout the Rosh Hashanah season.

Return to the Guide to the High Holy Days or view as a PDF.


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Author: 18Doors