Originally Published: September 12, 2014 6 a.m.
Jews in the quad-city area will join in a community of prayer this month to usher in the most solemn period of Jewish observance.
"Unlike the secular New Year, our High Holy Days are a time of reflection on our deeds over the past year, and an opportunity for us to practice charity, repentance and prayer," said Rabbi Jessica Rosenthal, spiritual leader of Temple B'rith Shalom in Prescott. "It's also a time to think of our shared Jewish values as a community."
The High Holy Days, which begin with Rosh Hashanah on the evening of Sept. 24 and conclude with Yom Kippur on Oct. 4, mark the Jewish New Year. "Jews traditionally believe that on Rosh Hashanah, God reviews and judges every person's actions over the past year, and seals judgment on Yom Kippur," said Rosenthal. "We pray that we'll be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year."
The Days of Awe, as they are known, begin with blasts from the shofar, or ram's horn, a tradition that dates from Biblical times. "The sound of the shofar is a summons to prayer," said Rosenthal. "The shofar blasts are the symbol of liberation and peace. It sends us a message of hope and a call for freedom. "
Though the High Holy Days are a solemn time, Jews traditionally begin the period with a festive meal. They also eat apples and honey to symbolize hopes for a sweet year.
Yom Kippur, which is at the end of the High Holy Days, is a way for Jews to cleanse themselves through fasting and prayer, said Rosenthal. "It's our way of connecting with the best that is in us and what God expects of us. It enables us to bridge the gap between who we can be and what we have been."
For more information, call Temple B'rith Shalom at 708-0018.