Originally Published: September 11, 2015 6 a.m.
The High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur will bring Jews in the Quad City together in a community of prayer starting at sundown on Sept. 13 and ending 10 days later.
The High Holy Days mark the beginning of the Jewish New Year, explained Rabbi Jessica Rosenthal, spiritual leader of Prescott's Temple B'rith Shalom.
"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," Rosenthal said. "It's a time when we can join together to share and practice Jewish values as a united community."
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," Rosenthal said. "We pray that we'll be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year."
She added that, during the Hebrew month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, Jews make special efforts to be charitable and to ask forgiveness both from God and from others whom they may have wronged during the 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," Rosenthal said. "It reminds us that when our ancestors received the Torah on Mount Sinai, it was accompanied by thunder, lightning and the sound of the shofar. Today, the shofar not only reminds us of our need to atone for the sins we have committed in the past year, but to work to become better people in the year that lies ahead. The shofar blasts send us a message of hope and a call for freedom. "
Though the High Holy Days are serious, Jews traditionally begin the period with a festive meal to celebrate the joyous beginning of the Jewish New Year. 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, Rosenthal said. "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 further information, call the Temple at 928-708-0018.