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Sat, March 23

Jewish community readies for 'making things right' on Rosh Hashanah

The holiest week of the year for Jews around the world - Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish New Year - starts Wednesday at sunset.

The first 10 days of the year are meant as a way for Jews to make amends with others, review actions from the previous year and try to do better in the year ahead.

"(It's) for making things right with other people in our families and in our neighborhoods and in our communities," said Rabbi William Berkowitz with Temple B'rith Shalom in Prescott. "It's a time for apology and forgiveness and peacemaking and mending relationships."

Jews spend this time praying to God to forgive their sins and asking for forgiveness from people they hurt during the previous year. Berkowitz said Jews will have a festive meal then go to their synagogue for a worship service to prepare to look inward.

"Because that's where it starts, looking inward at our own actions over the past year, how we treated others and finding areas that we'd like to correct in the coming year," he said.

The High Holy Days, which run from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur, is a time for contrition, prayer and charity.

As part of those charitable efforts, Berkowitz said that the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Prescott is dedicating a fund at the Yavapai Regional Medical Center in Prescott Valley to help uninsured women cover the cost of mammogram screening.

The festivities at the center are at 6 p.m. Oct. 4.

"It's a gesture on behalf of the whole community and I think that's very much in keeping with why we've been celebrating this holiday for so many thousands of years is to make the community stronger and more connected," he said.

Berkowitz said Zachary Askew will sound the ram's horn trumpet, or shofar, during services for worshipers to remember to reflect on their actions and repent. Jews also ask God to include them in the book of life on Rosh Hashanah, which is also known as the Day of Judgment.

During Rosh Hashanah, Jews eat traditional foods including apples with honey to symbolize their hopes for a sweet year.

"Throughout the 10 days we keep in mind a metaphor of the book of life, and it's our hope that on Yom Kippur we will be sealed in the book of life for a good year," he said.

Yom Kippur, which is at the end of the High Holy Days, is a way for Jews to cleanse themselves through fasting and prayer, according to Berkowitz.

"It's our final chance to really connect with the best that is in us and what God expects of us," he said. "Helping us recognize the distance between who we can be and who we have been."

This year, Rosh Hashanah kicks off the new Jewish calendar year at sunset, Sept. 28, for the new year of 5772.

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