What Greetings are Appropriate on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur?

On Rosh HaShanah, we can say “shanah tovah umtukah,” which means “may you have a good and sweet new year.” The greeting can be shortened to “shanah tovahL’shanah tovah לְשָׁנָה טוֹבָה Literally, “for a good year.”  This is a customary greeting for Rosh HaShanah. Also, “shanah tovah.”  ” (“a good year”). A more formal expression is “L’shanah tovah tikateivu v’teichateimu”, which means “a good year, and may you be inscribed and sealed (for blessing in the Book of Life).” Another greeting is "tizku l'shanim rabot," which means "may you merit many years."

You may hear people say “chag sameachChag SameachHebrew for term meaning, "happy holiday." ,” but strictly speaking, chag sameach is used only on the three pilgrimage festivals: Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot.  

Another traditional greeting for AshkenaziAshkenazאַשְׁכְּנַזLit. "Germany"; includes Jews of European origin. Jews on both Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur is a Yiddish YiddishיִידִישׁJudeo-German language combining old German and Hebrew spoken by the Jews of Eastern Europe. Also known as "Jewish." greeting, “gut yontif,” which means “(wishing you) a good holiday.” SephardicSephardiסְפָרַדִּי Jews who come from Spanish backgrounds and from lands around the Mediterranean Sea. Jews may offer a greeting in Ladino, "anyada bueno, dulse, i alegre," meaning "may you have a good, sweet, and happy new year." The Hebrew expression, "tizku leshanim rabot," meaning, "may you merit many years" is also appropriate.

Special greetings on Yom Kippur include “g’mar chatima tovah,” which means, “may you be inscribed (or sealed) for good [in the Book of Life],” and “tzom kal,” which is used to wish others an easy fast.

Whether you are greeting people in person, over the phone, online, or just signing an email, using a special phrase acknowledges the importance of the High HolidayHigh Holidaysיָמִים נוֹרָאִיםRosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur season and expresses your good wishes for the other person.

You can learn more about terms to use during the High Holidays in the ReformJudaism.org glossary.